Are you getting the recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye every night? Most likely not, says David L. Luterman, M.D., medical director of the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas’ Sleep Center. He offers seven tips to help you improve your sleep one day (and night) at a time.
Day 1: Allow Enough Time For Sleep
This one can be difficult, especially for people with children or those who work long hours, but Dr. Luterman puts it at the top of the list.
“There are all these different things you can do at night that squeeze sleep out, like watching TV, texting or browsing Facebook. But you’ve got to try to make the time for sleep,” he says.
Day 2: Start a Regular Wake-Up Schedule
Having a normal wake-up time is even more important than a set time to go to sleep.
“If you have a normal wake-up time and you’re only sleeping six hours, you’ll eventually begin to feel tired and hopefully go to bed earlier so you can get an adequate amount,” Dr. Luterman says.
Day 3: Reserve Your Bed for Sleeping
If you’re having a hard time sleeping, don’t watch TV, read or use your computer in bed, Dr. Luterman says. Get up and do those things elsewhere. Then, when you’re sleepy, go back to bed.
Day 4: Avoid Food, Caffeine and Alcohol Before Bed
Feeling full can keep you awake, as can alcohol and caffeine.
“Although alcohol can put you to sleep, by the time it wears off it messes up the second half of the night’s sleep,” Dr. Luterman says.
Day 5: Exercise Earlier In The Day
“Exercise is good, but you shouldn’t be exercising before bed. It just revs your system up,” Dr. Luterman says. Try to exercise in the morning or afternoon—at least several hours before bedtime.
Day 6: Limit Afternoon Naps
“Napping will accumulate hours and cut the amount of time you need for sleep at night,” Dr. Luterman says. “So if you’re having a hard time sleeping and you’re taking naps, you may want to cut those back.”
Day 7: Find Ways to Relieve Stress
According to Dr. Luterman, many people actually learn insomnia during times of high stress, but when it lessens, they can’t kick the insomnia habit.
“You have to try to relearn sleep,” he says. “Relaxation techniques like biofeedback, yoga, stretching and deep breathing may help some people be able to shut down, but others may need professional help to learn how to do that.”
Tired of being tired? You’ll be racking up more ZZZ’s in one week’s time with these no-nonsense tips.