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How can I get into a good sleep routine?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Sleeping in a cool, dark room is one way to get into a good sleep routine. If you find it hard to get to sleep, do something relaxing before going to bed - reading or watching TV - to calm you down. You can also drink a glass of milk (skim!) or eat a banana or some other melatonin- or serotonin-containing food to help make you sleepy. If you need to rise early in the morning, skip late-night activities. The best sleep schedule is a regular schedule, and one that is in sync with the natural rhythms of the day. If you need to, sleep late on weekends to re-pay sleep debts. Sleeping late on weekends is at least a good way to get your restorative sleep and reset your stress hormone patterns.

Here are my top five tips to help you create and maintain a successful sleep routine:

1. Set aside a power down hour before bedtime. Stop work. No chores. Do something relaxing like take a warm bath, engage in light reading, or watch TV if that’s relaxing for you (avoid the news channels).

2. Go to bed and get up at the same time 7 days a week--no matter what!

3. Schedule in at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. You can break up these minutes into pockets of 10 minutes if you have to. Here’s an idea: Expose yourself to bright, morning natural light (a good thing for calibrating the body’s natural clock) with a brisk walk before breakfast, then again at lunch, and after dinner.

4. Avoid caffeine after 2 pm in the afternoon. Don’t forget hidden sources like soda, and some headache medicines.

5. Adopt some mind-, body-, and sleep-friendly practices like meditation, massage, or yoga.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.