Sleeping does not come easy to many people. In fact, insomnia is one of the most common reasons patients come to my clinic. As a sleep medicine physician, I constantly get asked whether I live by the same recommendations I give my patients. It’s one thing to know the science and medicine behind sleep — it’s another to put it into practice. Consequently, as a sleep expert I live by what I teach my patients about how to sleep better.
Do you want to become an expert sleeper? First, make sure you’ve mastered the basics of sleep hygiene. You’ve likely heard about the main strategies to good sleep hygiene. Once you’ve put into practice basic sleep hygiene, you can now learn how to become an expert sleeper.
And don’t we all want to snooze through the night until your calming alarm tells you it’s time to wake up? Let’s discuss some of these practical tips.
Toss Out Your Lengthy Bedtime To-Do List
Remember that time management is just as important in the evening as it is during the day. Instead of trying to accomplish everything on your to-do list at night while sacrificing sleep; reverse your approach.
Set aside the amount of time you need for a full night’s sleep. For example, you feel your best when you get eight hours of sleep. Then, commit to stopping your activities in advance of bedtime to ensure to get the proper amount of sleep throughout the night. This can lead to more productive days, thereby allowing you to complete those tasks anyway. Remember that the average adult needs eight to nine hours of sleep each night.
Make a Sleep Sanctuary
Using your bed and your entire bedroom primarily for sleep is important. If you do work or watch television while lounging in your bed, your brain may not be ready to shut off when it’s bedtime. By making your room a haven for sleep, your brain subconsciously starts getting ready to catch some shut eye the minute you walk in the door.
Soundproof Your Sleep
Nothing is more frustrating than repetitive noisy interruptions to your slumber. For those that live near busy streets or share a home with rambunctious roommates, protect your ears and delicate hours of rest with these interventions.
First, consider using a white noise machine to help dull out distracting noises. Avoid music since the up and down fluctuation of the rhythm can disrupt sleep. Second, plug in good old-fashioned ear plugs. You can find them at nearly every local pharmacy for less than five dollars.
Drop the Night Cap
While a glass of wine may help you fall asleep, your body will break down alcohol while you snooze and leave your brain feeling a sense of “withdrawal” as the morning hits. This causes disrupted sleep and waking up before your alarm goes off. Try to go to bed with a blood alcohol content of zero.
Let the Sunlight Guide Your Day
Early morning sunlight can actually make it easier to fall asleep at the desired time each night. Take a minute to open up the shades and get some UV rays in the morning. Do you wake up too early to see the sun? Turning on bright lights in the home can do the job as well.
Keep these tips in mind on your journey to the perfect night of sleep helping you function at your optimum energy level each and every day.
About The Author
Sujay Kansagra, MD is the director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program and author of the book “My Child Won’t Sleep.” Dr. Kansagra offers Daily Doze readers tips and insight about the importance of sleep, especially for kids who need plenty of rest to grow and develop. Dr. Kansagra graduated from Duke University School of Medicine, where he also completed training as a pediatric neurologist. He did his fellowship in sleep medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, before joining the faculty at Duke as an assistant professor. He specializes in treating a variety of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and parasomnias. He shares advice on sleep, medicine, and education through his Twitter accounts @PedsSleepDoc and @Medschooladvice. When he’s not busy at work or on social media, Dr. Kansagra enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons. And yes, they are both great sleepers.
Best Night’s Sleep: Not just a sleep expert, but also an expert sleeper, Dr. Kansagra can sleep almost anywhere, thanks to years of sleep deprivation during medical school and residency call nights. But his best sleep is at home with his family, on a mattress he purchased at Mattress Firm long before he joined our team.