Many people have challenges with sleep: problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. While medications can be helpful, there are other things that can be done to help.  One thing to look at is what is called your “sleep hygiene.”  These habits around bedtime can disrupt normal sleeping patterns.  If you are watching TV in bed, or evening reading in bed; that may make it harder for you to fall asleep, as your brain is confused about when to turn off.  Having caffeine late in the afternoon or early in the evening can disrupt sleep.  Another issue for people who have problems falling asleep or wake up and can’t back to sleep is staying in bed too long while trying to fall asleep.  If the attempt is not working, it is often better to get out of bed, perform a calming activity, and try again later.  Recently, the folks at Real Simple interviewed me about one technqiue that can assist in finding problems, which is keeping a sleep diary. 

Author Matthew L. Mintz, MD, FACP

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