Sleep Health

10 Tips for Better Sleep

One of the best things you can do for yourself, especially as you get older, is to get enough sleep. Insufficient sleep can make you depressed and cause you to be less alert and energetic. Some problems, like sleep apnea, require treatment. But for most people, simple changes can mean an increase in restful, healthy sleep.

Here, from the experts at Harvard Medical School, are ten tips for better sleep:

Be consistent. Sleeping well means having a routine. Go to bed at the same hour every night and wake up every morning at the same time. Doing that, the Harvard experts say, will help you get into the habit of more easily falling asleep and waking up.

Don’t use the bed as your office or TV watching station. The Harvard experts advise using the bedroom for sleep and sex alone.

Back off the caffeine. It helps if you know how much you’re affected by caffeine. Some people can’t have a single cup of coffee without feeling it. For most of us, though, it’s a good idea to stop drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon. Too much caffeine, the Harvard experts say, can not only keep you awake but also make you urinate more frequently overnight.

Exercise. Regular activities like walking or swimming can help you fall asleep faster and awaken less often. But don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you might become too “up” to sleep.

Avoid napping. Prolonged daytime snoozing can disrupt your natural sleep cycle and make it easier for you to stay awake.

Kick the nicotine habit. Tobacco in any form, the Harvard experts say, can make it harder to fall asleep.

Drink moderately. Alcohol is a depressant, so it may help some people fall asleep. But, the Harvard experts emphasize, that effect vanishes after a few hours. Besides that, alcohol can make snoring and sleep breathing problems worse.

Improve your sleep surroundings. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool, with as little clutter as possible. Don’t have any office equipment in there.

Know when to get up. The Harvard experts recommend that if you’re still awake after about twenty minutes, get up and read for a bit to relax. Otherwise, you’ll just toss and turn and get agitated.

Steer clear of sleeping pills. Many sleep medicines have addictive properties. If you do take one, the Harvard experts say, talk with your doctor about how you can use it as effectively and for a short time.

To learn more about ways to stay healthy and age well, buy the Special Health Report From Harvard Medical School, “A Plan for Successful Aging.”