Dr. Katherine Green - the director of the Sleep Center at the University of Colorado Hospital - has some advice.
Here's her advice:
- The importance of a daily schedule – you should wake up at the same time (within an hour or so) every day, on the weekdays and the weekends! “Catch up sleep” is not actually good for your sleep habits and routine
- The bed is for sleep (and sex) only! Avoid doing other things in bed (watching TV, laying in bed awake, working on computer etc). Get into bed only when you are sleepy, and get out of bed if you aren’t asleep after 20-30 minutes
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine at least 6 hours before bedtime, both are stimulants
- Avoid electronics within an hour of bedtime – tv, phone, ipad, computer, all emit a light that suppresses your body’s sleep hormone, and can make it harder to fall asleep and harder to stay asleep
- Avoid naps if you can. If you absolutely must take a nap, take it early in the day (before 2PM or so) and limit it to no more than an hour
- Develop a bedtime routine, setting up a healthy sleep environment (cool, dark room, a pillow and blankets that you like) and doing the same things before bed every night helps your body know that it is time for sleep
- Exercise is great for your body and great for sleep, but exercising earlier in the day is better. Exercising late in the evening can be detrimental to falling asleep
- Finally, if you have a great routine and are doing all the right things, but STILL can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep – seek the help of a sleep medicine physician to help get you back on track. Self-medicating with alcohol or over the counter “sleeping aids” is a bad idea, many of those medications actually lead to very poor sleep quality and have significant side effects.