I came across some “commandments for better sleep” that I think are worth passing along, especially since I suffer from insomnia occasionally and think these suggestions are useful.
1. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule by getting up at the same time every morning and avoiding sleeping in weekends beyond one extra hour. This practice will “anchor” your sleep schedule and become the foundation for your new and reconditioned sleep.
2. Develop a 30 minute pre-sleep routine for mind and body to wind down from the stress and activity of the day. Reduce mental, physical, and sensory (light and noise) stimulation. Soothing music, relaxation and meditation exercises, or pleasure reading may be helpful. Avoid bright light all evening and melatonin-blocking blue light from computer and television displays for at least 30 minutes preceding bedtime.
3. A 30 to 45 minute dose of early-morning light is vital to maintaining your natural sleep/wake (circadian) rhythm and promoting sleep readiness 16 hours later. Walking the dog, doing outside chores and exercise, eating breakfast by a window or ample artificial light exposure may help satisfy this need for morning light stimulation before 9 am.
4. Regular exercise is essential for optimal health and well being including sound sleep. Exercising three to six hours before bedtime is optimal for relaxation and lowering of body core temperature to promote sleep as is a hot bath approximately one to two hours before sleep.
5. Eating and drinking close to bedtime can interfere with falling and staying asleep but so can hunger. A light snack of complex carbohydrates is fine if hungry before bedtime or during the night. Avoid stimulants like sugar, high fructose corn syrup and nicotine especially later in the day, and try to limit liquids to one cup within four hours of bedtime.
More sleep commandments next time.