Neal Shanblatt, MD

Sleep
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Improve your sleep.

A good night's sleep is important to keep us feeling healthy and energetic.  Different people need different amounts of sleep.  Most people need between 6-9 hours of sleep per day. Many people have difficulty with sleep, either trouble falling asleep or difficulty remaining asleep.   Although sleeping pills may help, they can have significant side effects.  Also, pills can effect the sleep cycle so that the sleep is not refreshing.  It's better to improve your sleep habits to get a better night's sleep than to try and medicate the problem.  Here are some suggestions to help improve your sleep:

Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

Don't take daytime naps.  If you must have a nap, limit it to 45 minutes or less, and before 3pm.

Stay active during the day.

Get some sunshine in the morning and during the day. Keep the shades open during the daytime.

Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, Excedrin) within 6 hours of bedtime. 

Avoid alcohol within 6 hours of bedtime.

Avoid all beverages within a few hours of bedtime to decrease nighttime urination.

Avoid cigarettes and nicotine, especially in the evening. 

Don't take decongestants or "non-drowsy" cold medicines after 3pm.

Don't go to bed until you feel sleepy.  If you are not tired, do some boring chores or read quietly (in a different room) until you feel sleepy. 

Avoid strenuous activity and exercise before bedtime.

Don't read or do other work in bed.  Use your bed only for sleeping.

Make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable.

Don't watch television in bed.  No TV in the bedroom.

Keep the bedroom dark and quiet.

Try a light snack, warm milk, or a bath before bedtime.

Make sure your medications don't cause insomnia.

If you wake up in the middle of the night, and can't fall back to sleep, leave the bedroom and do some quiet activity for 10-20 minutes, before returning to bed.

Leave your worries and anxieties outside the bedroom.  If you suffer from depression or anxiety, seek treatment.

If you snore or have irregular breathing during sleep, get tested for sleep apnea.