Sleep is a crucial component for health, performance and daily living. During sleep our bodies repair themselves and our brains integrate new information, organize memories and put learned information into long-term memory. If you have trouble getting enough sleep these tips can help you build better habits:

  • Limit caffeine, particularly in the afternoon and evening.
  • Limit alcohol. Especially avoid excessive consumption before bed.
  • Try to quit tobacco use; nicotine is a stimulant.
  • Don’t use a computer, cell phone or handheld device in the 90 minutes before bedtime. LED lighting “tells” the brain to stay awake.
  • Limit television viewing before bed.
  • Lower the temperature in the house or bedroom before and during sleep. The body likes cooler temperatures. Many sleep doctors suggest lowering body temperature 90 minutes before bedtime.
  • Take a hot bath 90-120 minutes before bed.
  • Use the bed only for sleeping, lovemaking, and perhaps reading before sleep.
  • Nap only 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon, if necessary.
  • Keep a sleep diary to track patterns.
  • Eat 3-4 hours before bed and avoid heavy meals. Some evidence suggests that a light carbohydrate snack before bed helps sleep.
  • If possible, protect sleep from intrusions (unexpected noises); consider wearing earplugs.
  • If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until your body and mind feel tired.
  • Meditate, listen to soothing music, or create other nighttime rituals that signal it’s time to sleep.
  • Use blackout curtains to block light.
  • Buy and use a reliable, effective alarm clock.
  • Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow.

To view the full article from the November-December 2013 IDEA Fitness Journal click here.