Suggestions for Better Sleep

Suggestions for Better Sleep

Courtesy of the Institute of Functional Medicine 

MINIMIZE OR AVOID STIMULANTS

  • Avoid alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine-containing beverages or foods after 2 pm; if sensitive to caffeine, avoid it after 12 noon.
  • Avoid Sudafed or other decongestant cold medicines at night.
  • Some medications may have stimulating effects.
  • Complete any aerobic exercise before 6 pm.

 

NIGHTTIME TENSION AND ANXIETY

  • Avoid anxiety-provoking activities close to bedtime.
  • Avoid watching the news before going to bed.
  • Avoid reading stimulating, exciting materials in bed.
  • Avoid paying bills before bed.
  • Avoid checking your financial reports or the stock market before bedtime.
  • Avoid arguments before bedtime.
  • Try to achieve some action plan or resolution of a discussion or argument before trying to go to sleep.
  • Avoid repeated negative judgments about the fact that you are unable to sleep.
  • Use positive self-talk phrases regarding your ability to relax and fall asleep: “I can fall asleep.” “I can relax.”
  • Try writing in your journal any disturbing thoughts that are running through your mind.

 

SLEEP PLANNING AND PREPARATION

  • Plan your sleep by putting it into your schedule; plan for 8 ½ to 9 hours in bed.
  • As much as possible, go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This will help train your biological clock.
  • Begin prepping for bedtime 30 minutes before getting in bed.
  • Avoid getting in bed after 11 pm as late-hour sleep is not as helpful as earlier sleep.
  • Avoid late afternoon or evening naps.
  • Avoid naps longer than 45 minutes unless you are sick or quite sleep deprived.
  • Avoid large meals or spicy food before bed.
  • Finish all eating 3 hours prior to going to sleep.
  • Avoid driving more than 4-8 ounces of fluid before going to bed.
  • Take a hot salt/soda aromatherapy bath.

 

STRATEGIES TO USE WITH TROUBLE FALLING ASLEEP OR STAYING AWAKE

 

  • Consider reading a good neutral book under low light to help with falling asleep.
  • If using a tablet or phone for reading, make sure they are in the nighttime setting brightness is as low as possible.
  • If using a light, don’t use a table lamp. Instead, use a HUD light or other small light that only illuminates the reading material.

 

LIGHT, NOISE, TEMPERATURE, AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

  • Turn down the light in the bathroom and in rooms you are in 15 minutes before going to bed
  • Decrease the light in your bedroom by using a dimmer or reading light with a dimmer.
  • Consider using amber glasses for at least 30 minutes before bedtime to reduce light exposure.
  • Use dark window shades or consider a set of eye shades or a black covering for your eyes when trying to sleep or if you awaken too early because of light.

 

BEDDING AND PILLOWS

  • Consider replacing your pillows with hypoallergenic pillows.
  • Consider using a “side sleeper” pillow for under your neck when sleeping on your side.
  • Consider using a body pillow to hug and put between your knees to align your back and shoulders at night.
  • Roll backward at a slight angle onto a body pillow if you have hip bursitis or should pain.

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SUPPLEMENTS AND LIGHT THERAPY

  • Consider taking supplements to aid your sleep.
    • Melatonin – 1-5 mg to fall asleep.
    • 5-HTP – 100-200 mg 1 hour before bedtime.
    • Taurine – 500-200 mg 1 hour before bedtime.
    • Magnesium – 200-400 mg is a typical dose.

 

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