This information sheet
suggests how you can form good sleeping habits and help prevent
insomnia. If you are having ongoing sleeping difficulties, you
should consult with your family physician for support and an appropriate
Eating before Bedtime
Avoid eating or drinking excessively before going to bed.
Digesting food increases the work of the heart and makes it hard
to fall asleep. Also, after drinking a lot in the evening, you
might be awakened by an urge to urinate. If you must have something
before bed, unless by a physician's orders, limit it to a single
cup of fluid and a light sugarless snack.
Try to avoid daytime napping. Naps count toward total sleep time
and can make it difficult to sleep through the night. Although
some people and cultures regularly nap, the idea is not to nap
"too long." This usually results in decreasing the time spent
sleeping at night. If you tend to be a poor sleeper, do not nap
during the day. Try to go for a walk or work in the garden to
help break the nap habit.
and Tobacco in the Evening
These are stimulants (except for alcohol) that promote
wakefulness. All of them increase the amount of urine production
and are addictive drugs that delay sleep onset, disturb the stages
of sleep, and cause arousal and awakenings. A drink of alcohol
can make you drowsy, but the resulting sleep is disrupted and
unrefeshing. Caffeine also is found in many foods and non-prescription
medications. Check the label to make sure you eliminate your caffeine
use after the noon-hour. If you need a cup of tea or coffee in
the later afternoon, change to decaf coffee or decaf-herbal
Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, running, or cycling
can help reduce daily stress that can lead to insomnia. Make sure
you check with your family physician if you have any restrictions
prior to doing these activities. It's best not to have rigorous
exercise within two hours of bedtime, however, because it stimulates
the body and increases your body temperature, making it difficult
to fall asleep.
Follow the same routine each night before bed. This can help you
get 'programmed' for sleep. Taking a relaxing shower, or bath,
brushing your hair, or having a glass of warm milk before bed
can help prepare you for sleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at
the same time every day. Avoid staring at the clock in bed. Reserve
time before bed for relaxation. Listen to a relaxation tape. Take
20 or 30 minutes to read, knit, watch a favourite television show,
or listen to relaxing music before performing your bedtime routine.
Is Your Bedroom
Have a soothing sleep environment. Loose-fitting night clothes,
a comfortable mattress and pillows, and clean sheets can all help
you feel more relaxed in bed. The bedroom should not be too noisy,
light, cold, or hot. Carpeting and heavy drapes help soundproof
and darken your bedroom. Pets in bed can sometimes be distracting.
Save the Bedroom
for Sex and Sleep
Reserve the bed for sex and sleep only. If you are more stimulated
than relaxed after sex, consider having sexual activity at an
earlier part of the day or evening. Do not use the bed or bedroom
as a place to eat, write letters, turn on the computer or sewing
machine, balance the checkbook, or watch great television shows
till all hours of the night. However, some people have timers
on their TV, which can help lull them to sleep.
Waking-up at Night
If you wake up several times during the night and find it hard
to get back to sleep (10 or 20 mintues), try these simple steps:
1. When you awaken,
give your yourself about 10 to 15 mintues to fall asleep again.
Don't watch the clock.
2. If you are still
awake, go into another room and pursue a quiet or boring
activity for about 20 mintues. Read the paper, write in a journal,
crossword puzzle, but do not watch an exciting movie…. It will
keep you up! Listen to a relaxation tape (if you have one).
3. Then return to
bed. Keep the lights low (but bright enough to see your way safely
to bed). If you don't fall asleep in 20 mintues, get up and repeat
these steps until you fall asleep.