Tips for a Good Night's Sleep

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Duke Student Health

1.  Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. As creatures of habit, people have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Sleeping later on weekends won’t fully make up for a lack of sleep during the week and will make it harder to wake up early on Monday morning. 



2.  Exercise! Try to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day. Daily exercise often helps people sleep, although a workout soon before bedtime may interfere with sleep. For maximum benefit, try to get your exercise about 5 to 6 hours before going to bed. 



3.  Relax before bed. A warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine can make it easier to fall asleep. You can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them part of your bedtime ritual.




4.  Have a good sleeping environment. Get rid of anything in your dorm room/bedroom that might distract you from sleep, such as noises, bright lights, or warm temperatures. 



5.  Have the right sunlight exposure. Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. If possible, wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning. Sleep experts recommend that, if you have problems falling asleep, you should get an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and turn down the lights before bedtime. 



6.  Consume caffeine earlier in the day. The effects of caffeine take 6-8 hours to wear off fully. Consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or at night makes it harder for you to fall asleep.  



7.  Finish eating large meals at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. A light snack is okay, but a large meal can cause indigestion that interferes with sleep.  



8.  Limit your consumption of alcohol and stop drinking a few hours before bedtime. Alcohol may help you relax, but it suppresses deep sleep and REM sleep. When alcohol wears off during the night, your body experiences rebound arousal. 



9.  Take naps earlier in the day. Naps can improve daytime functioning, but late afternoon naps (and long naps) can make it harder to fall asleep at night.  



10.  Turn off electronics 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed. The bright, artificial light emitted from cell phones, computers, TV etc. suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that is released when it gets dark and helps you fall asleep.