Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
A good night’s sleep can improve mood, enhance brain power, increase energy and help to maintain a healthy body.
Woman sleeping soundly If you suffer from insomnia, sleep aids can help, but they're not the only solution. You can make changes in your behavior and environment that can help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
Try some of these tips:
Learn to relax
- Use guided imagery and meditation to relax with pleasant, nonstimulating images.
- Don't lie in bed awake if you can't get to sleep. Read, watch television, or listen to music, until you feel tired.
Create a sleep-friendly environment
- Your body is cued to dusk. Dim the lights an hour or two before bedtime.
- Try using earplugs, a white noise machine or a humming fan to block out disruptive sounds.
- Turn your bedside clock to face the wall.
- Increase your exposure to morning sunshine or very bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps the body's internal biological clock reset itself each day and can help you to fall asleep at night.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet room with a comfortable temperature (60-65 degrees is best.)
- Wind down just before bedtime with a relaxing pre-sleep ritual such as a warm bath, soft music, a relaxation tape or reading.
Maintain healthy habits
- Eat a light bedtime snack combining carbs with just a little protein, such as peanut butter on a piece of toast.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the four to six hours before bedtime. Coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, "energy-boosters" and some pain relievers contain caffeine. Alcohol prevents deep sleep; nicotine stimulates the brain.
- Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Exercising five or six hours prior to bedtime may help you sleep more soundly, but don't exercise within two hours of bedtime.
- Don't eat large meals within two hours of bedtime.
- Don't nap later than 3 p.m.
Talk to your doctor
- Some medications, such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers, cause insomnia, so if you're taking them, discuss your sleep problems with your doctor.
- See a doctor if your sleeping problems continue. Persistent insomnia and feeling tired the next day could indicate a medical problem.
Tired of feeling tired?
Here’s how to fight fatigue
Our moods can make us tired and so can our meds. How can we get back our get-up-and-go?
“I start projects but don’t have the energy to finish them,” says Nancy, who takes medications for Bipolar II Disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder. “I don’t feel like doing things with family and friends.”
Depression can make us feel like we’re slogging through mud. And many mood stabilizers and antidepressants cause drowsiness. It’s no wonder our energy level is so low.
Fatigue is when both your mind and body feel tired. It’s hard to concentrate and make decisions. Feeling tired all the time can make you irritable, which can strain relationships. If you’re battling depression or anxiety, feeling tired makes it hard to focus on recovery.
Most fatigue is caused by psychological factors, but not eating properly, not getting enough sleep or overdoing daily tasks can make it worse. Because there could be an underlying medical problem that’s causing it, you should talk to your doctor.
Nancy says she gets some relief from using a negative ionizer and a low-light therapy device that simulates dawn, a common treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder, or "winter depression." Here are other steps you can take:
Tips for fighting fatigue and boosting energy
- If you’re depressed, treat your depression
- Take medications if prescribed. Work on the life problems that are contributing to your depression with a therapist.
- Reduce unnecessary stress.
Get more and better sleep
- Not enough sleep causes fatigue. Try to get eight hours a night.
- Avoid heavy meals right before bedtime.
- Avoid exercise within two hours of bedtime.
- Learn how to relax. Try guided imagery.
Eat a healthy diet
- Eat breakfast for energy. Choose carbohydrate-rich foods such as cereals or whole grain bread.
- Don't skip meals. Try to eat regularly to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
- Eat a diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, low fat dairy products and lean meats. Reduce fats, sugar and salt.
- Don't overeat; it can drain your energy.
- Cut back on caffeine, which can provide a temporary boost, but too much can reduce performance.
- Drink plenty of water. Your body will perform better.
- Your body will tell you when you need to rest.
- Alternate a heavy task, then a light task. Tackle the most difficult things when you're feeling your best.
- Create shortcuts and combine tasks.
Change your lifestyle
- Don't smoke. It can sap your energy by reducing the amount of oxygen available in the blood.
- Boost your physical activity. It increases energy and improves sleep quality.
- Energize with walking or yoga.
- Take time out to relax and enjoy life.