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Getting a Good Night Sleep

A Few Tips to Help You Get a Good Night Sleep

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Updated October 22, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

A good night sleep can be the difference between feeling great and feeling terrible. But getting a good night sleep can be as easy as following a few easy tips. Here are some tips that will help you get a good night sleep.

Do Something Relaxing if You Aren't Sleepy at Bedtime

Don't try to force yourself to go to sleep. Instead, if you don't feel tired when it's time to go to bed, do something relaxing before heading to the bedroom. Read a book or listen to music; deep breathing or relaxation exercises; whatever you can do to relax your body and make it ready for sleep.

Don't Smoke or Use Nicotine Within 2 Hours of Bedtime

Nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes is a stimulant. Using nicotine gum, sprays, or smoking stimulates the body, making it hard to sleep. Obviously, for someone who has a cigarette habit, not smoking for 2 hours before bed may be problematic. If that is the case, there are drugs and programs to help people stop smoking. Talk with your doctor to get on the road to being smoke free.

Avoid Sleeping Medication or Use with Great Caution

The temptation is to solve your sleeping problems with pills. While sleeping medication can help in the short term, the use of sleeping pills can actually disrupt your sleep patterns. In addition, it is very easy to become dependent on sleeping medications. If at all possible, exhaust all non-medicinal methods of falling asleep such as relaxation techniques, deep breathing, a warm bath, ect. before taking the next step to sleeping pills.

Avoid Alcohol Within 6 Hours of Bedtime

While alcohol can cause you to feel drowsy initially, once the effect wears off it acts as a stimulant, making it harder to stay asleep. Avoiding alcohol before bedtime assures that if you fall asleep, chances are you will stay asleep.

Don't Eat or Watch TV in Bed

Your bed is for two things and two things only; sex and sleep. Eating or watching television in bed disrupts your sleep environment. Have you ever stayed in a hotel and laid in bed a few hours watching television. Then when it's time to go to sleep, the bed no longer feels comfortable. It's like you wore out your welcome so to speak. If you need to watch television or eat before you go to bed (which we advise against), sit at your table or on the sofa. Your bed is for sleep...oh and sex too.

Exercise Regularly...But Not Before Bed

Doesn't it figure? We tell you how great exercise is for your health. Now we're telling you not to exercise before you go to bed...make up our minds! Seriously, exercise is a stimulant for your body. With exercise comes the release of adrenalin, which in turn stimulates your body and increases your metabolism. The last thing you want to do is get your body's engine started just before you go to bed. Absolutely, exercise just not before you go to bed.
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