Insomnia can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or sleep soundly through the night. Poor sleep can interfere with your concentration, memory, and motivation. It can also make you downright grouchy.
But did you know that too little sleep can also interfere with your physical health? Researchers have discovered that poor sleep can increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other serious medical conditions.
Insomnia comes in two forms: primary and secondary. Secondary insomnia is the result of conditions such as sleep apnea, chronic pain, depression, and other conditions that can interfere with sleep. Primary insomnia has no discernible cause.
Dr. Avisheh Forouzesh is an internal medicine specialist who advises good sleep hygiene for insomnia. Read on to find out what to do before bedtime to help ensure a good night’s sleep.
Keep regular sleep hours
Sticking with a regular sleep schedule — going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day — can program your body to sleep better. It’s not really the times you choose but the regularity that matters. Try to stick with this plan even on the weekends to maintain a routine your body and brain will appreciate.
Create an environment suitable for sleep
Design your bedroom to promote relaxation and sleep. Start with a mattress and pillows that are sized right and promote support without being too soft or too firm. Select bed linens that are soft and soothing and can be layered for temperature control. Remove exercise equipment, televisions, and other electronics from the bedroom.
Give yourself a chance to wind down before bedtime
As part of your nightly routine, indulge in relaxing activities that prepare your mind and body for sleep. Taking a warm bath, listening to quiet music, or practicing focused rhythmic breathing can help put aside the day’s stressors, soften tense muscles, and quiet your thoughts.
Exercise regularly but early
Moderate routine exercise such as cycling or walking can help keep your body healthy and relieve tension that builds during the day. Avoid vigorous exercise three hours before bedtime, since it can energize your system and keep you awake.
Switch to caffeine-free
Caffeine can interfere with falling asleep and prevents deep sleep. If you overindulge, cutting back on your caffeine overall is a healthy endeavor, but it’s especially important to limit your intake in the evening. Try herbal teas or other caffeine-free beverages instead.
Eat dinner early and keep your evening snacks light
It’s difficult for your body to shut down for sleep when it’s in the middle of digesting a heavy meal. Try to eat supper three to four hours before your regular bedtime and limit after-dinner snacks to lighter fares such as fresh apple slices with a spread of peanut butter.
Make a list so your brain doesn’t have to
Many people are in the habit of worrying over tomorrow’s to-do list as they’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep. Write out a list of tomorrow’s worries and potential solutions before you begin winding down for the evening. This helps keep your brain focused on resting rather than problem-solving.
Don’t browse your phone or social media before bedtime
Using technology during the critical unwinding period before bedtime can stimulate your brain, preventing the onset of sleep. Instead, try curling up with a book.
Like any habit, it can take time to make good sleep hygiene part of your nightly routine, but the results are often well worth the effort.
If you need further assistance with falling asleep and staying asleep or have a medical condition that’s affecting your sleep, schedule a visit with Dr. Forouzesh today. Call her office in Hoboken, New Jersey, or book your appointment online.