Ten ways to improve your sleep

I always review sleep hygiene when I see patients with insomnia, a very common complaint. While following these guidelines does not always solve the problem, it's a good start:

  1. Only use the bedroom for sleeping and sex. No television, studying or working on the computer.
  2. Go to bed and get up at the same time seven days a week. If you go to bed late, still get up at your usual time. Always use an alarm.
  3. No napping or lying horizontally (e.g. while watching television or reading) during the day.
  4. Limit caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
  5. Exercise daily. If an evening workout keeps you awake, change it to a morning routine.
  6. Keep the bedroom cool, dark and quiet. Install blinds and use ear plugs if necessary.
  7. Turn the clock face away from you. Seeing the time can cause an emotional reaction that is not conducive to sleep.
  8. Warm milk and a light carbohydrate snack before bed can promote sleep.
  9. Get in the habit of doing a restful activity (reading, a warm bath) before going to bed.
  10. If you cannot sleep after 20 minutes, get up, leave the room, and do a restful activity until you begin to feel sleepy. Reattempt sleep. Repeat.

*Based on Dr. J. Fleming's recommendations in the "Insomnia" chapter of Therapeutic Choices, Fifth Edition