Here are 12 tips to improve your sleep, from the experts at the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School:
1. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks, for example) within 4 to 6 hours of bedtime. Alcohol should be avoided in the 3 hours preceding bedtime, and nicotine in the hour before going to bed.
2. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep.
Favour dark colours and subdued lighting. Make sure to block out the light with thick curtains or blinds. Lower the volume of outside noise and keep the room cool. It is best not to work or watch television in the bedroom.
3. Establish a bedtime routine.
Bedtime routines are also good for adults! In the hour before going to bed, avoid stressful or stimulating situations and favour calm, soothing activities (reading, taking a bath or shower, performing relaxation exercises).
4. Only go to bed if you are tired.
Otherwise, you may not fall asleep right away and may become frustrated as a result. If you haven’t fallen asleep after 20 minutes, get up again and do a soothing activity until you feel yourself getting sleepy.
5. Do not look at the clock!
Watching the time pass or looking at the clock when we wake up in the middle of the night can cause you stress, which will prevent you from sleeping. Turn your clock around so you don’t see the time.
6. Make daylight your friend.
Seeing natural light is important for your internal clock, so let in the light first thing in the morning and go outside for some fresh air and a sun break at least once during the day.
7. Have a consistent sleep schedule.
If you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, this creates a routine for your body, which over time begins to anticipate sleep at the same time every day.
8. If you nap, do it early.
Napping too late in the day reduces your body’s need for sleep. If you need to nap, do so early in the afternoon.
9. Have a light supper.
Eating a heavy meal or eating too late can disrupt your sleep. Eat several hours before going to bed. If you wake up during the night (or too early in the morning) because you’re hungry, you can eat a light snack during the evening.
10. Watch out for liquids.
Don’t drink too much in the hours before bed, in order to avoid having to get up in the middle of the night to urinate.
11. Exercise helps, but only if it’s at the right time.
Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed. The earlier your work out, the better it is for your sleep.
12. Be consistent.
All these tips can help you sleep better if you follow them on a regular basis. Routine is sleep’s best friend!
If despite all your efforts, your sleep hasn’t improved within a few weeks, don’t hesitate to see your doctor.