means that you have trouble falling asleep or
staying asleep. It is a common problem. Most people will have sleep problems
now and then because of temporary stress, worry, or an irregular schedule. But
when you have trouble sleeping for weeks or months, it can lead to health
problems. Worrying about it only makes it worse.
The good news is
that if you can change the way you think about sleep, and then make some simple
lifestyle changes, you may improve how well you sleep. This topic will give
you some tips on how to do just that.
Lots of things affect
how well you sleep. For example, what, when, and how much you eat and drink can
affect your sleep. Eating a large meal close to bedtime can make it hard to
sleep, but a light snack right before bed may help you sleep. Your exercise
habits and the physical environment of your bedroom can also affect how well
you sleep. Certain habits can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.
The more you know about what affects your sleep, the more likely
you are to make lifestyle changes that can lead to better sleep.
What time I eat dinner does not affect my
A heavy meal too close to bedtime can interfere
with sleep. A light snack may actually improve sleep.
Continue to Why?
The choices you
make every day often become the habits that are a regular part of your
lifestyle. Changing habits can lead to a lifestyle that promotes better sleep.
Lifestyle habits and sleep practices are strongly related
to overall sleep quality. For example:
Daily habits can affect my sleep.
What and how much you drink, whether or not you
get regular exercise, and many other choices you make can affect your sleep
Continue to How?
Here are some tips that
may help you sleep more soundly and wake up feeling more refreshed. You might
want to start slowly at first. Pick one thing to change, and see how that
change affects your sleep. After a week or two, try to add another change. As
you make changes, you might want to keep a
sleep diary(What is a PDF document?) to figure out what things help you to sleep better and what things
may get in the way of a good night's sleep. Step by step, your sleep should
improve. If it doesn't, talk to your doctor.
Napping during the day will help me practice falling
asleep so that I can do it better at night.
Napping during the day, while not unhealthy,
may make you less tired at bedtime. If you are tired at bedtime, you may sleep
When I am tossing and turning, unable to sleep, I
should stay in bed until I fall asleep.
If you are tossing and turning, you should not
stay in bed until you fall asleep. Use the bed as a place for sleep, not
sleeplessness. If you aren't asleep within 15 or 20 minutes, go to another room
and do a quiet activity like reading until you feel sleepy.
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you are ready to take some steps toward improving your sleep. You
may have to try a few different lifestyle changes until you find what works
best for you. If these changes don't help you sleep better after you have tried
them for 2 weeks, talk to your doctor.
If you would like more information on sleep problems, the
following resources are available:
The National Sleep Foundation, an independent nonprofit
organization, can provide you with brochures on sleep disorders and a list of
accredited sleep disorder clinics.
For more information about sleep problems, see the
Return to topic:
December 1, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
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