Solutions and Sleep Tips*

Achieving sound sleep can be hard, but there are ways to make it easier. To help patients get a better night’s rest, John R. Fishbein Ph.D. offers some reliable sleep tips. In San Jose, he routinely helps patients to live better lives in a number of ways. By visiting his practice and following the sleep tips below, you can enjoy a much healthier and more satisfying life.

Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol: Avoid drinks with caffeine, which acts as a stimulant and keeps people awake, 2-3 hours before bedtime. These include coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs, and some pain relievers. Smokers tend to sleep lightly and often wake up early due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol robs people of deep and REM sleep and keeps them in the lighter stages.

Maintain a Comfortable Room Temperature: Extreme temperatures may disrupt or prevent sleep.

Don’t Lie in Bed Awake: If you can’t get to sleep, don’t just lie in bed. The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can contribute to insomnia.

Exercise 20-30 Minutes a Day: Daily exercise often helps people sleep, though a workout soon before bedtime may interfere with it. For maximum benefit, stop exercising 1-2 hours before going to bed.

Insomnia Intervention: If you frequently spend 1-2+ hours to fall asleep, here’s something to try: If you are still awake after 30 minutes, get out of bed. Do something relaxing, such as reading, listening to calm music, or something mundane but worthwhile for the next 30 minutes. Do not do work or entertaining things like watching TV, using the computer or PDA’s, etc. Repeat as many times in the night and for as many nights as necessary. Even if, at first, you are up most of the night, get up at the pre-determined time and do not take a nap longer than 20-30 minutes.

Relax Before Bed: A warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine can make it easier to fall asleep. You can train yourself to associate restful activities with sleep and make them part of your bedtime ritual.

See a Doctor If Your Sleeping Problem Continues: If you continue to have trouble sleeping night after night or always feel tired the next day, you may have a sleep disorder and should see a physician or psychologist experienced in them. Most can be treated, so you can finally get a good night’s sleep.

Set a Schedule: Go to bed at a similar time each night and get up at roughly the same time each morning. Disrupting your sleep schedule may lead to insomnia. “Sleeping in” on weekends also makes it harder to wake up early on Monday because it re-sets the cycle. Avoid naps longer than 20-30 minutes a day; any longer can disrupt our biological clocks, making it more difficult to fall or remain asleep.

Sleep Until Sunlight: Wake up with the sun if possible, or use bright lights in the morning--or whenever your “morning” may be. Light helps the body's internal clock reset itself each day. Sleep experts recommend exposure to an hour of morning sunlight for people having problems falling asleep.

Within 2-3 Hours of Bedtime, Avoid Stimulating Mental or Physical Activity: That includes eating, drinking, exercise, playing video games, watching TV, or thinking about problems.

*Adapted from “When You Can't Sleep: The ABCs of ZZZs,” by the National Sleep Foundation.