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Vanderbilt Department of Neurology

Suggestions for Better Sleep

Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center

1. Sleep only as much as you need to feel refreshed during the following day. Restricting your time in bed helps to consolidate and deepen your sleep. Excessively long times in bed leads to sleep fragmentation and shallow sleep.

2. Get up at the same time each day, seven days a week. A regular wake time in the morning leads to regular times of sleep onset, and helps to set your "biological clock."

3.  A steady daily amount of exercise helps to deepen sleep. Exercise should not be taken too close to bedtime.

4.  Insulate your bedroom against sounds that disturb sleep. Carpeting, insulated curtains, and closing the door may help.

5.  Excessively warm rooms may disturb sleep; keep the room temperature moderate.

6.  Hunger may disturb sleep. A light snack at bedtime may help sleep, but avoid greasy or "heavy" foods.

7.  Avoid excessive liquids in the evening to minimize the need for nighttime trips to the bathroom.

8.  Avoid caffeinated beverages, especially in the evening.

9.  Avoid alcohol especially in the evening. Although alcohol helps tense people fall asleep more easily, the ensuing sleep is fragmented.

10. The use of tobacco disturbs sleep.

11. Don't take your problems to bed. If necessary, plan some time earlier in the evening for working on your problems or planning the next day's activities.

12. Train yourself to use the bedroom only for sleeping and sexual activity. This will help condition your brain to see bed as the place for sleeping. Do not read, watch TV or eat in bed.

13. People who feel angry and frustrated because they cannot sleep should not stay in bed. This often makes the problem worse. Instead, turn on the light, leave the bedroom, and do something different, like reading a boring book. Don't engage in stimulating activity such as watching television or working on a computer. Return to bed only at your regular time the next day, no matter how little you slept.

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