By Leslie Bourne, PhD
Chief of Behavioral Health, Reliant Medical Group
In our fast-paced society, many people ignore the importance of sleep. However, getting a good night’s sleep is an important way to stay healthy. Constantly missing sleep can cause you to gain weight, increase anxiety, and contribute to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s why doctors and other health professionals consider proper sleep so important to your overall health.
It’s best to try to improve your overall sleep habits rather than resorting to any type of supplement or medication when you are having trouble falling asleep.
Below are some tips that can make a real difference in helping you get a good night’s sleep. If you follow these tips and still have chronic sleep problems, you should talk to your medical provider. If your children are having trouble falling asleep at night, it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician. Children’s sleep needs are different than adults, and sound sleep is very important to their growth and development.
10 Ways to Improve Your Sleep
- Keep a consistent schedule. Getting up at approximately the same time every day – even on weekends – is incredibly important. The good news is that this makes getting up on Monday morning a lot easier.
- Adjust kids gradually. A week or two before the school year starts, you should start to gradually adjust your children’s sleep schedule to the new time they need to get up in the morning. (See the chart below to determine just how much sleep your children need.)
- Sleep in a dark bedroom. If there is too much light in your bedroom, or you have to sleep during the day, invest in blackout shades.
- Tone down the noise. If outside noise bothers you, buy some earplugs or purchase a “white noise” machine to help block out disturbing sounds.
- Power down those devices. Turn off electronic devices such as phones and tablets at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The light emitted from these devices has been proven to interfere with sleep if used before bedtime. Do not take devices into bed with you.
- Don’t be a clock-watcher! Constantly watching the clock when you are having trouble falling asleep can cause anxiety and make matters worse. It’s best to turn your alarm clock away from your eyes while you are trying to get to sleep.
- Go to sleep when you are tired. If you don’t fall asleep within approximately 20 minutes of going to bed, go to another room and read a book or do some other relaxing activity until you are sleepy.
- Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening. Caffeine is a stimulant that can affect you for hours after drinking. Alcohol and nicotine should also be avoided before bedtime as they can have a detrimental effect on your sleep.
- Exercise! Staying active can help promote restful sleep but it needs to be done well before bedtime since it stimulates the body. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before you go to bed.
- Sleep on a good mattress. Whether you prefer plush or firm, your mattress should be comfortable enough to spend the night on.
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
|Newborns (0-2 months)
|Infants (3 to 11 months)
|14 to 15 hours
|Toddlers (1-3 years)
|12 to 14 hours
|Preschoolers (3-5 years)
|11 to 13 hours
|School-age children (5-10 years)
|10 to 11 hours
About Leslie Bourne, PhD
Dr. Leslie Bourne almost became a lawyer instead of a doctor. “I went to Cornell University as an undergraduate because they had a good law school there. However, I took a great course in psychology in my junior year and decided that’s what really interested me. So I decided to change course and go into the field of psychology.”
In her work as a behavioral psychologist, Dr. Bourne always respects the patient and tries to...View profile View posts by this doctor