Practicing good sleep hygiene is one way to ensure you get the best sleep possible. “Sleep hygiene” is defined by the National Sleep Foundation as a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness. Some of these methods include:
- Set a specific sleep and wake time - Making sure to keep a bedtime that is about the same time every night, including weekends, can help you stick to a sleep schedule and enjoy more restful sleep.
- Associate your bed with sleep and intimacy - Don’t read, watch TV, listen to music, use other technology or eat in bed.
- Avoid stimulants - such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol - Although a “night cap” may seem like a good idea because it makes you drowsy at first, alcohol can cause restless sleep and frequent awakenings.
- Limit naps - This can disturb your sleep/wake pattern.
- Exercise - at least five hours before bedtime.
- Avoid large meals and beverages - before bedtime. Eating too much at night can interfere with sleep and cause you to wake up to urinate.
- Keep your cell phone in another room - Although many people keep their cell phone at their bedside at night, it can become a source of slight anxiety.
When these steps are taken and you still don’t get adequate or restful sleep, it may be time to schedule a sleep study to determine the root cause.
Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
Behavioral therapy is the first line of treatment for those with insomnia. It teaches you new ways to improve the quality of your sleep and your sleeping environment. This approach is just as effective or more so than using sleep medication. Some of these therapies include:
- Education about good sleep hygiene in order to promote good sleep, such as sticking to a sleep schedule and to avoid being in bed while awake.
- Relaxation techniques aim to help you control your breathing, heart rate, muscle tension and mood.
- Sleep restriction is one treatment which causes sleep deprivation, making you sleepier the following day. This should make it more likely that you will sleep more restfully the next day.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is another method to improve your sleep by replacing the worries you have about not sleeping with positive thoughts.
- Limit the time you spend awake in bed doing various activities and to associate the bed only with sleep and intimacy.
Medication for Insomnia Treatment
Prescription sleeping pills are recommended as the last resort for those who have sleeping problems. They are usually only prescribed for no more than a few weeks as they can become habit-forming. Over-the-counter medications are available which include antihistamines that will make you drowsy, but these may reduce the quality of your sleep and can cause unpleasant side effects such as daytime sleepiness and dry mouth.
Herbal supplements may help you sleep better, as well, but be sure to discuss taking these with your doctor before using them as they may interact with other medications and can be dangerous on their own.
Interested in learning more about insomnia treatment options? Please call The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute at 1-855-690-0563 and one of our representatives will be happy to answer any questions you may have.