Sleep Smart With These 10 Tips (Slideshow)

How to get a better night's rest


If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning or staring at the clock, you know the toll it can take the next day. But insomnia and most other sleep disorders can affect your long-term health, too.

Get a better night’s rest with these tips from Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center — and S.L.E.E.P. S.M.A.R.T.


  • S: Set sleep as a priority

    Anyone who has spent a night tossing and turning knows that bad sleep can impair focus, alertness, memory and mood, but studies also have tied chronic sleep issues to heart disease, stroke, depression and other serious conditions. A lack of sleep isn’t just bad for your mood; it’s bad for your health.
  • L: Leave bed if you can’t fall asleep

    If your mind is racing, staying in bed and fretting may actually increase your anxiety. This is true at the beginning of the night and if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. Leave bed and do something you find relaxing, such as reading or listening to peaceful music. Return when you feel sleepy.
  • E: Establish a routine

    Sleeping late on the weekends seems like a good way to catch up on sleep, but experts say it’s better to stay on a schedule to maintain your circadian rhythms. The more you get yourself into a routine of going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, the more those times will seem natural to your body.
  • E: Exercise, but not near bedtime

    Exercise is important, but you have to time it right. Morning exercise can boost your mood and energy, and some research suggests late afternoon or early evening exercise can benefit sleep. But exercise within 4 hours of bedtime can stimulate you and raise your body temperature, neither of which help with sleep.
  • P: Prepare your bedroom for sleep

    Too much light and too much noise can disrupt your sleep, so use curtains and blinds to keep your bedroom dark and earplugs or white noise to keep it quiet. A fan also can provide soothing noise, plus the cool temperatures that are conducive to better sleep. And if your mattress is old and lumpy, it’s time for a new one.
  • S: Skip the naps

    Taking naps too late in the day can lead to poor sleep at night, and daytime sleepiness can be a sign of a deeper sleep issue. If you do nap during the day — and research has shown some health benefits from napping, such as improved thinking, learning and performance — try not to do so late in the afternoon or early evening.
  • M: Mention sleep problems to your doctor

    Nearly everyone will get a bad night’s sleep from time to time, but if you are sleep-deprived over a long period of time, talk to your doctor. You may have insomnia, sleep apnea or any number of sleep conditions that, over time, can affect your overall health and well being.
  • A: Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime

    Avoiding caffeine late in the evening is a no-brainer, because the caffeine in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate is a stimulant. What many people don’t know, though, is that alcohol, although it has a sedative effect, can lead to poor sleep in the later parts of the sleep cycle, not to mention fatigue the next day.
  • R: Remove electronics from the bedroom

    TVs, smartphones, tablets, computers and other gadgets are designed for entertainment and stimulation, not for sleeping. Your favorite show or work email can wait until tomorrow. Try to keep the bedroom free of disruptions — and limit your bedroom activities to sex and sleep.
  • T: Turn the clock around

    If you’re staring at the clock on a sleepless night, counting down the hours before morning comes, you’re likely to make your sleep anxiety worse. Set the alarm to wake up in the morning if you need it, but don’t focus on the time at night. Over time, if you set a sound sleep routine, you’ll need the alarm less and less.

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