Sunday, February 28, 2010


Insomnia is a common sleep complaint, yet many people don’t realize simple things that can be easily done to optimize sleep. Much of the tips below are intuitive, some are not. A few are simply incompatible with some life styles. Business travel and being on call were two factors in my own life that played havoc with my sleep.

It’s important to establish a set time to go to bed and precede this with a ritual, such as brushing your teeth and changing into comfortable sleepwear. Part of a good sleep routine is to establish a regular wakeup time that allows for sufficient sleep. Once in bed, or just prior to going to bed, practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga.

Avoid naps. This is probably one of the easiest factors to control if you are employed. Although alcohol may relax you, it has a rebound effect that disrupts sleep when the blood level burns off. So avoid it 4-6 hours before bedtime. Likewise, avoid caffeine in any form (including chocolate) 6 hours before bedtime. Heavy, spicy, or sugary foods close to bedtime may keep you awake, especially if you suffer from GERD.

Your bedroom should include comfortable bedding. (I love the Sleep Number mattress). Keep the room well ventilated and at a comfortable temperature. Block out distracting noises. We mask city noise with a white noise generator. Several good ones can be found on the Internet for under $75. Use the bed only for sleeping or sex and not for reading or watching TV.

Evaluate the effects your medications may have on sleep and, if possible, take those with sedative side-effects within 30 minutes of going to bed.

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