How to sleep soundly

Sleep may be as natural as breathing and eating, but many of us find ourselves tossing and turning instead. Sleepless nights can be caused by a wide variety of factors, especially stress and your sleep environment.



  • STEP 1: Avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages after noon.
  • STEP 2: Eat dinner at least 3 hours before you go to bed, especially if it's a large meal. For a before-bed snack, try warm milk, yogurt or a banana.
  • STEP 3: Relax. If you're tense at bedtime, take a warm bath with aromatherapy soaps, stretch, listen to music, meditate - whatever works for you.
  • STEP 4: Stay away from the evening news right before bed. Stories of disasters and corruption can be stimulating and disruptive to sleep.
  • STEP 5: Avoid the nightcap. Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it can interfere with the quality of sleep.
  • STEP 6: Don't drink any fluids right before going to bed. A full bladder may awaken you.
  • STEP 7: Try to go to sleep at the same time every night to get your body into a routine.

Tips & Warnings

  • Napping can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you're very tired, take a short nap before 2 p.m., but don't sleep for more than 30 minutes.
  • Even though vigorous exercise should be avoided before bedtime, mild exercise, such as an after-dinner walk, may help you sleep better.
  • If you're feeling very tense, try drinking herbal teas made from valerian, chamomile, oats, passionflower or balm, which are said to be natural sleep aids.

The Sleep Environment


  • STEP 1: Adjust the room temperature so it's slightly on the cool side. Rooms that are too hot or cold are less conducive to sleep.
  • STEP 2: Darken the room. Draw your blinds or curtains to keep out streetlights.
  • STEP 3: Sleep on a comfortable bed that gives you good support. Sleeping on a bed that's too hard, too soft or lumpy will have you waking up fatigued and with a backache.
  • STEP 4: Use earplugs if the environment is noisy, or use a fan or a Sound Soother that creates "white noise." White noise is a soothing sound that blocks out more noxious noises.
  • STEP 5: Focus your mind on pleasant thoughts as you drift off to sleep. Count sheep, count backward, or do whatever works best, but keep your mind off personal and work-related worries.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have trouble falling asleep, get up and do some light activity until you feel sleepy.
  • Keep the light dim. Bright light will make you more alert.

Overall Tips & Warnings

  • If you have any questions or concerns, contact a physician or other health care professional before engaging in any activity related to health and diet. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
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