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Tips for Healthy Sleep

Sleep is as important as food and air. Most adults need between 7.5 to 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you feel tired in the daytime, it may be due to not enough time in bed, external disturbances, or a sleep disorder.

1. Keep regular sleep hours 
Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Getting bright light, like the sun, when you get up will also help. Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Bright morning light at the same time every morning will help you feel sleepy at the same time every night.

2. Limit stimulants like caffeine
If you take caffeine, take it only in the morning. Avoid all stimulants in the evening, including chocolate, caffeinated colas and teas. They will delay sleep and increase arousals at night.

3. Your bed is for sleeping
Avoid watching TV or using a laptop computer. Reading in bed can be a problem if the material is very stimulating and you read with a bright light. If you read before bed, a 15 watt light bulb should be enough.

4. Avoid bright light in the evening
Use dimmer switches to keep light at low levels. These can be set at maximum brightness in the morning.

5. Don't stress about how much sleep you're getting
That will just make matters worse. You will sleep eventually.

6. Avoid exercise before bed
A general rule is no exercise at least 3 hours before bed.

7. Don't go to bed hungry
Have a light snack, but no heavy meal before bed.

8. Avoid looking at the clock
If you wake up in the night, checking the time can cause anxiety. Turn the clock away from you so you can't see the time. You may decide not to make the effort to turn the clock around and go right back to sleep.

9. Try the 30 minute rule
If you can't get to sleep within 30 minutes, get up and do something boring in dim light until you are sleepy.

10. Mind the temp
Keep the bedroom temperature comfortable. Cooler is usually better than warmer.

11. Try white noise
If environmental noise is a problem, try a white noise generator or an old fan to help block out the unwanted noise.

12. Avoid alcohol just before bed
Know that the "night cap" has a price. Alcohol may help you get to sleep, but it will cause you to wake up throughout the night. You may not notice it and it is worse if you have sleep apnea. Alcohol can also make snoring worse.

13. Ask for help monitoring your sleep
If you have a sleeping partner, ask them if they notice any snoring, leg movements and/or pauses in breathing. Take this information and try the sleep test. You may have a sleep disorder, or you may just need to adjust your sleeping habits. If you have any concerns, see your doctor.

St. Mary's Health System • 93 Campus Avenue • Lewiston, ME 04240