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Seven Tips for Better Sleep

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In his book, Let’s Talk About Sleep, written with Lawrence A. Armour, Daniel A. Barone, M.D., offers a number of strategies for getting a better night’s sleep. Here are seven of them:

1. Watch the caffeine and the nicotine. Even decaf coffee can keep you up, since it has trace amounts of caffeine, so finish your coffee drinking by 1 p.m. or so. If you can’t quit nicotine, at least limit it to the daytime.

2. Turn your bedroom into a sleep-inducing environment. Keep your bedroom as dark as you safely can—I recommend blackout shades—and keep it on the cool side as well. Use it only for sleep (or intimacy) to keep your brain from associating it with anything else.

3. Nap early or not at all. If you need to nap, try to do it as early in the day as possible, and keep it to 20 or 30 minutes or so. Taking a nap in the evening can keep you from falling asleep at night.

4. Establish a soothing pre-sleep routine. Try things like meditation, soft music, a warm bath, or stretching.

5. Go to bed tired. Going to bed early in hopes of getting more sleep rarely works. Better to delay bedtime until you’re truly tired.

6. Keep a “worry” journal. A few hours before bedtime, write down each worry in one column and its solution in another. This may help reduce stress.

7. Stick with it. The benefits of these changes and others may take a few weeks to kick in as the body adjusts to them.

See Related Feature: Solving the Mysteries of Sleep

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