Tips for Better Sleep
Do you like to lie in bed and watch TV or have a nightcap before going to bed? These habits could actually be contributing to your sleep difficulties.
Sleep problems can cause more than just sleepiness—a lack of sleep can actually contribute to errors, accidents, affect your relationships, health, mental alertness, and make you feel generally “disconnected” from the world. If your sleeplessness is caused by a tough deadline, or a common cold, you might not have trouble getting your sleep back on track after the deadline or after the cold goes away, but if you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, consider the following--
Create the Best Sleep Environment
- Remove electronics like computers and televisions from your bedroom.
- Keep the room cool, comfortable, quiet and dark.
- Use the bed only for sleep and intimacy.
Learn to Relax Your Mind
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine; take a bath, read a book, listen to relaxing music before bed or try having a cup of Chamomile tea.
- Simple breathing exercises can help. Breathe, using your abdomen not your chest, through your nose for three seconds, then breathe out for three seconds. Practice this for about five to ten minutes in the later evening.
- Clear your mind—if you experience worries that are hard to shut off, spend some time earlier in the evening writing in a journal. If you continue to have difficulty shutting off your active mind, talk it over with a counselor from our UI Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
- Don’t watch the clock— it can cause anxiety about sleep.
- Try using a progressive relaxation or sleep CD that is specifically for helping people fall asleep. CD’s are available at no cost through our UI EAP. An EAP counselor can help you determine the best CD for your situation.
Avoid Alcohol before Bedtime
- Alcohol is a diuretic, which means you’ll probably need to get up and go to the bathroom. Plus it can make you restless prompting you to reawaken.
- Drinking is also more likely to lead to snoring, which can restrict airflow into the lungs. This reduces oxygen in your blood which disturbs your sleep.
Caffeine is a stimulant which can stay in your system for many hours. So avoid sources of caffeine such as coffee, chocolate, cola or energy drinks, and non-herbal teas.
- Regular exercise is a great way to improve your sleep. Just be careful not to do it close to bedtime as exercise produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly.
- This being the case, exercising in the morning is an excellent way to wake up the body. Going for a run or walk releases stimulants into the body, which can perk you up.
- Anyone can benefit from exercise. Meet with a Health Coach from UI Wellness to talk over some options that are right for you. Contact UI Wellness at 319-353-2973 for more information.
See your doctor if your sleep problems continue
If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, wake up too early, experience mid wakefulness, or if you always feel tired the next day, you may have a sleep disorder. It is advisable to seek advice from your doctor. The good news is most sleep disorders can be treated successfully.
Resources for sleep that are available through the Faculty and Staff Services/Employee Assistance Program include:
- Sleep CDs
- Weekly Sleep Diary (pdf)
- Better Sleep Checklist (pdf)
- Healthy Mind Resources-How Our Thoughts Influence Sleep
- Sleep and Food (pdf)
- Resilience and Relaxation Techniques
- Personal, Couple and Family Counseling
To discuss a sleep concern or to access any of the above resources, please contact EAPhelp@uiowa.edu.
If you would like to post or use as a handout, you may download a printable pdf of this page.
Page Last Updated January 2013