Tips for a Good Night's Sleep

Factors that may cause insomnia and solutions for it.

Practicing sleep hygiene
"Sleep hygiene" is a term used to describe practices that are sleep-friendly. If you're having trouble falling or remaining asleep, review this checklist to see if any of these factors may be causing or worsening the problem:

Is your bedroom a sleep-friendly area?
Minimize noise, light and excessive room temperatures when preparing for sleep. In addition, experts recommend using the bedroom only for sleep and sex. Activities such as watching TV, reading, eating or working in the bedroom stimulates you. Do those activities elsewhere in the home.

If you can't fall asleep in 15 or 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity in another room until you become sleepy.

Do you keep a regular pattern of bedtime and waking?
Waking up at about the same time of day helps retiring at bedtime be more predictable.

Do you limit your intake of caffeine?
Caffeine disrupts sleep because it is a stimulant. Caffeine is not only in coffee and tea, but also in some soft drinks, medications and foods. Avoid caffeine after lunch and cut down on your total daily use.

Do you smoke cigarettes near bedtime or upon waking up at night?
Nicotine is a stimulant that may "trigger" your body to remain alert.

Do you drink alcoholic beverages late in the evening?
While alcohol may help some people feel relaxed, it can actually disrupt sleep later in the night.

Do you eat heavy meals too close to bedtime?
Heavy meals may make lying down feel uncomfortable. Try a light snack instead, which may help induce sleep.

Do you do vigorous exercise within three to four hours of bedtime?
Regular exercise is essential for good health, but if done too late in the evening, it may interfere with sleep. Exercising in the late afternoon, however, can help deepen sleep.

Do you take naps frequently?
Avoid napping during late afternoons or evenings. If you must nap, do so early in the afternoon and limit it to 30 minutes.

Are you feeling anxious about not getting enough sleep?
Worrying about not being able to get enough sleep and spending too much time in bed attempting to "get more rest" can make insomnia worse.

Tips for shift workers
Working the night shift has the potential to seriously disrupt your "body clock." Often, companies that schedule shift work offer training on how to adjust to sleeping when daylight, family activity and other interruptions make sleep difficult. If your company does not offer such training, ask your doctor, professional association or union for information about coping with late-shift work, especially if you are experiencing substantial tiredness. Extreme fatigue interferes with your ability to work and increases your risk of a car crash or an accident while operating machinery.

The following sleep tips are frequently recommended for shift workers:

  • Decrease the amount of night work as much as possible.
  • Try to have a predictable schedule of night shifts.
  • During the shift, keep the lights bright to trigger wakefulness.
  • For daytime sleeping, eliminate as much noise and light as possible.
  • If you cannot get enough sleep during the day, speak with your doctor.



© UnitedHealthcare