Your body needs time every day to rest and heal. If you often have trouble sleeping — either falling asleep, or waking during the night and being unable to get back to sleep — one or several of the following ideas might be helpful to you:
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Avoid "sleeping in" (sleeping much later than your usual time for getting up). It will make you feel worse.
- Establish a bedtime "ritual" by doing the same things every night for an hour or two before bedtime so your body knows when it is time to go to sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
- Eat on a regular schedule and avoid a heavy meal prior to going to bed. Don't skip any meals.
- Eat plenty of dairy foods and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Exercise daily, but avoid strenuous or invigorating activity before going to bed.
- Play soothing music on a tape or CD that shuts off automatically after you are in bed.
- Try a turkey sandwich and a glass of milk before bedtime to make you feel drowsy.
- Try having a small snack before you go to bed, something like a piece of fruit and a piece of cheese, so you don't wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Have a similar small snack if you awaken in the middle of the night.
- Take a warm bath or shower before going to bed.
- Place a drop of lavender oil on your pillow.
- Drink a cup of herbal chamomile tea before going to bed.
You need to see your doctor if:
- You often have difficulty sleeping and the solutions listed above are not working for you
- You awaken during the night gasping for breath
- Your partner says that your breathing stops when you are sleeping
- You snore loudly
- You wake up feeling like you haven't been asleep
- You fall asleep often during the day
This article first appeared on womenshealth.gov.