When you sleep, your body repairs itself and your mind sorts through all it has learned and experienced during the day. A lack of sleep or poor sleep can cause poor concentration, weight gain, forgetfulness and irritability. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.

Tips for a good sleep:

  • Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day. Even on weekends. Sticking to a schedule helps reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle, helping you sleep better.
  • Complete tasks, including exercise, eating and drinking at least one hour before bed. Give yourself a chance to wind-down and your body a chance to digest food.
  • Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before bed. Nicotine and caffeine are both stimulants which keep you awake; alcohol is a sedative which disrupts sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
  • Make your bedroom a dark, quiet and comfortable sanctuary reserved mainly for sleep. Remove entertainment and study tools/materials as much as possible. Adjust lighting, temperature and noise levels to promote sleep.
  • Sleep primarily at night. Nap daily if needed, but not more than 30 minutes.
  • Maintain a relaxing bedtime routine. Do the same routine every night to tell your body it is time to wind down. This may include relaxation exercises, reading a boring book, or listening to soothing music; all with low or no lights.
  • Don’t count sheep too long. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 -30 minutes, get up and do something quiet. Go back to bed when you are tired. Don’t agonize over falling asleep. The stress will only prevent sleep.
  • Use medication only as a last resort and always under medical supervision.

Nearly everyone has occasional sleepless nights, but if you have trouble sleeping on a regular or frequent basis, see a health care professional. There may be underlying medical, emotional or psychological causes to your sleep disturbance. Identifying and treating these causes can help you sleep better and therefore feel and function better.