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Good Sleeping Tips


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Sleep is one of the body’s most mysterious processes. The idea of sleeping well conjures up restful images of fluffy pillows, comfortable blankets, and minimal activity. However, many people find sleep elusive. And the more we worry about our insomnia, the worse our sleep problems get.

A recent research study of Medicine found a connection between insomnia and diabetes. Study participants that reported sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours a day had an increased incidence of diabetes, compared to those who reported sleeping 7-8 hours.


Sleeping Pattern

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you fall asleep easily, then wake up 5 hours later and can't fall back asleep? Do you wake up several times during the night and have trouble staying asleep?


Tips for better daytime habits

Do not nap during the day

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, try not to nap during the day because you will throw off your body clock and make it even more difficult to sleep at night. If you are feeling especially tired, and feel as if you absolutely must nap, be sure to sleep for less than 30 minutes, early in the day.

Limit caffeine and alcohol

Avoid drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages for several hours before bedtime. Although alcohol may initially act as a sedative, it can interrupt normal sleep patterns.

Don't smoke

Nicotine is a stimulant and can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs disrupt sleep.

Expose yourself to bright light/sunlight soon after awakening.

This will help to regulate your body's natural biological clock. Likewise, try to keep your bedroom dark while you are sleeping so that the light will not interfere with your rest.

Exercise early in the day

Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise every day can help you sleep, but be sure to exercise in the morning or afternoon. Exercise stimulates the body and aerobic activity before bedtime may make falling asleep more difficult.

Check your iron level

Iron deficient women tend to have more problems sleeping so if your blood is iron poor, a supplement might help your health and your ability to sleep.

Better sleeping environment

Make sure your bed is large enough and comfortable

If you are disturbed by a restless bedmate, switch to a queen- or king-size bed. Test different types of mattresses. Try therapeutic shaped foam pillows that cradle your neck or extra pillows that help you sleep on your side. Get comfortable cotton sheets.


Make your bedroom primarily a place for sleeping It is not a good idea to use your bed for paying bills, doing work, etc. Help your body recognize that this is a place for rest or intimacy.

Keep your bedroom peaceful and comfortable

Make sure your room is well ventilated and the temperature consistent. And try to keep it quiet. You could use a fan or a "white noise" machine to help block outside noises.

Hide your clock

A big, illuminated digital clock may cause you to focus on the time and make you feel stressed and anxious. Place your clock so you can't see the time when you are in bed.

Is Your Environment Conducive To Sleep?

Room temperature
Sleep in a cool room. Pile on another blanket or add one under the mattress pad rather than turn up the heat. A physician I know used this principle while in medical school; he kept an air conditioner on in his room all year. He said it helped him sleep better so that he needed less sleep. You don't need to go to such extremes, but do keep it cool.


Even a little thing like a dry throat may make sleeping more difficult. Most heating systems dry the air in your bedroom, so borrow a humidifier to see if it will help. Keeping heat down and having a window open can also keep humidity up.

Some people seem to sleep better if there is a white noise -- a fan running, for example -- in the background. For others, noise can interrupt sleep.
In addition to the fan strategy, try particular kinds of music to blot out the noise. Play a recording of music that has no words, no definite melody, and not a lot of change in the volume. Baroque music is a good choice. There are many tapes of sounds that aid sleep by quieting the mind, emotions, and body. Check at the counseling center, at a mental health center, or holistic health center.
If desperate, you might try ear plugs that workers use on noisy jobs. If you use cotton, be sure to use balls large enough that they won't work down into your ear canal and have to be removed by a physician.

Pre-sleep ritual

Keep a regular schedule.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on the weekends. Keeping a regular schedule will help your body expect sleep at the same time each day. Don’t oversleep to make up for a poor night’s sleep – doing that for even a couple of days can reset your body clock and make it hard for you to get to sleep at night.


Incorporate bedtime rituals

Listening to soft music, sipping a cup of herbal tea, etc., cues your body that it's time to slow down and begin to prepare for sleep.

Relax for a while before going to bed

Spending quiet time can make falling asleep easier. This may include meditation, relaxation and/or breathing exercises, or taking a warm bath. Try listening to recorded relaxation or guided imagery programs.

Don’t eat a large, heavy meal before bed.

This can cause indigestion and interfere with your normal sleep cycle. Drinking too much fluid before bed can cause you to get up to urinate. Try to eat your dinner at least two hours before bedtime.

Bedtime snacks can help

An amino acid called tryptophan, found in milk, turkey, and peanuts, helps the brain produce serotonin, a chemical that helps you relax. Try drinking warm milk or eat a slice of toast with peanut butter or a bowl of cereal before bedtime. Plus, the warmth may temporarily increase your body temperature and the subsequent drop may hasten sleep.

Jot down all of your concerns and worries

Anxiety excites the nervous system, so your brain sends messages to the adrenal glands, making you more alert. Write down your worries and possible solutions before you go to bed, so you don't need to ruminate in the middle of the night. A journal or "to do" list may be very helpful in letting you put away these concerns until the next day when you are fresh.

Go to sleep when you are sleepy

When you feel tired, go to bed.

Avoid "over-the-counter" sleep aids,

Make sure that your prescribed medications do not cause insomnia. There is little evidence that supplements and other over-the-counter "sleep aids" are effective. In some cases, there are safety concerns. Antihistamine sleep aids, in particular, have a long duration of action and can cause daytime drowsiness. Always talk to your doctor or healthcare practitioner about your concerns!

Getting back to the sleep

Do visualization
Focus all your attention on your toes or visualize walking down an endless stairwell. Thinking about repetitive or mindless things will help your brain to shut down and adjust to sleep.


Get out of bed if unable to sleep.
Don’t lie in bed awake. Go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Worrying about falling asleep actually keeps many people awake.

Don't do anything stimulating

Don't read anything job related or watch a stimulating TV program (commercials and news shows tend to be alerting). Don't expose yourself to bright light. The light gives cues to your brain that it is time to wake up.

Get up and eat some turkey

Turkey contains tryptophan, a major building block for making serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which sends messages between nerve cells and causes feelings of sleepiness. Note that L-tryptophan doesn't act on the brain unless you eat it on an empty stomach with no protein present, so keep some turkey in the refrigerator for 3am.

Consider changing your bedtime

If you are experiencing sleeplessness or insomnia consistently, think about going to bed later so that the time you spend in bed is spent sleeping. If you are only getting five hours of sleep at night, figure out what time you need to get up and subtract five hours (for example, if you want to get up at 6:00 am, go to bed at 1:00 am). This may seem counterproductive and, at first, you may be depriving yourself of some sleep, but it can help train your body to sleep consistently while in bed. When you are spending all of your time in bed sleeping, you can gradually sleep more, by adding 15 minutes at a time.

Keeping sleep diary

Learn about your sleep patterns and habits by keeping a daily sleep diary.
See Help guide's sample sleep diary or make up your own and include:
• Time you went to bed and woke up;
• Total sleep hours;
• Quality of sleep;
• Times that you were awake during the night and what you did (e.g. stayed in bed with eyes closed or got up, had a glass of milk and meditated);


• Amount of caffeine or alcohol you consumed and times of consumption;
• Types of food and drink and times of consumption;
• Feelings - happiness, sadness, stress, anxiety;
• Drugs or medications taken, amounts taken and times of consumption.

What happen during sleep

Sleep is a periodic state of rest during which consciousness of the world is interrupted. Additionally, sleep is marked by:

• decreased movement of the skeletal muscles;
• a relaxed posture, usually lying down;
• reduced response to stimulation, such as sounds and touch;
• slowed-down metabolism; and
• complex and active brain wave patterns.


Sleep cycle

Sleep is divided into two types: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and NREM (non-REM) sleep. REM sleep is when we dream. NREM sleep is further divided into four stages.

A typical night of sleep follows this pattern:


Stage 1 (Drowsiness)

When you first fall asleep, you are in Stage 1 sleep (Drowsiness). Stage 1 lasts just five or ten minutes. Eyes move slowly under the eyelids, and muscle activity slows down. You are easily awakened during Stage 1 sleep.

Stage 2 (Light Sleep)

Next, you go into Stage 2 sleep (Light Sleep). In Stage 2, eye movement’s stop, heart rate slows, and body temperature decreases.

Stages 3 & 4 (Deep Sleep)

Then you enter Stages 3 and 4 (Deep Sleep). During stages 3 and 4, you are difficult to awaken. People who are awakened during Deep Sleep do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes after they wake up. Children may experience bedwetting, night terrors, or sleepwalking during Deep Sleep.

REM sleep

At about 70 to 90 minutes into your sleep cycle, you enter REM sleep. You usually have three to five REM episodes per night. Your eyes jerk rapidly in various directions under your eyelids, thus the name Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep.

The first sleep cycles each night contain relatively short REM periods and long periods of deep sleep. As the night progresses, REM sleep periods increase in length while deep sleep decreases. By morning, people spend nearly all their sleep time in stages 1, 2, and REM.

What happens during the REM sleep stage?

During REM sleep, you dream actively, but your limb muscles are immobile. Your breathing is rapid, irregular, and shallow. Your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, males may have penile erections, and females may have clitoral enlargement. Your brain is at least as active during REM sleep as it is when you are awake.

Because your major muscles do not move during REM sleep, you will not act out your dreams. (Sleepwalking occurs during NREM sleep.)
If our REM sleep is disrupted one night, our bodies don't follow the normal sleep cycle progression the next time we doze off. Instead, we often slip directly into REM sleep and go through extended periods of REM until we "catch up" on this stage of sleep.

Typical sleep need

A rule of thumb: If you wake up feeling refreshed, and you don’t feel sleepy during the day, you are getting enough sleep. If you have an occasional night of poor sleep, you probably will need to sleep more the next night to make up for it.


The amount of sleep that you need depends on a number of factors, including:
• your genetic make-up,
• the amount of exercise you get,
• what you do during your waking hours,
• your age,
• whether you are still growing, and
• the quality of your sleep.

Following are some guidelines on how much sleep you or your loved ones might need:

Typical Sleep Needs
Group Amount of Sleep Needed
Infants About 16 hours per day of sleep
Babies and toddlers From 6 months to 3 years: between 10 and 14 hours per day. Young children generally get their sleep from a combination of nighttime sleep and naps.especially for tips on shaping nighttime awakenings in young children.
Children • Ages 3 to 6: between 10 and 12 hours of sleep
• Ages 6 to 9: about 10 hours of sleep
• Ages 9 to 12: about 9 hours of sleep
Teenagers About 9 hours of sleep per night. Teens have trouble getting enough sleep not only because of their busy schedules, but also because they are biologically programmed to want to stay up later and sleep later in the morning, which usually doesn’t mesh with school schedules..
Adults For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each night.
Older adults Current thought is that older adults need as much, if not more, sleep than middle-aged adults. Taking a midday nap may help..
Pregnant women During pregnancy, women may need a few more hours of sleep per night.

What are the signs of sleep deprivation and how can I tell if I have a sleep debt?

Some of the signs of sleep deprivation include:

• difficulty waking up in the morning,
• lack of concentration,
• falling asleep during work or class, and
• Feelings of moodiness, irritability, depression, or anxiety.

If you are tired or drowsy during the day, you probably haven’t gotten enough sleep, and you have a “sleep debt.” A sleep debt can be from one night’s poor sleep or the accumulation of many days of not enough sleep.

You can make up for a sleep debt with extra sleep, but a chronic sleep debt can have serious long-term effects, including immune system problems, metabolic changes that can lead to obesity, and hyperactivity.

What are some tips to help with my sleeping?

Establishing a consistent sleep routine is one of the most important ways to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Following are a few pre-sleep routines that might work for you:

Tips to Help You Sleep
Better Sleep Habits Details
Keep a consistent sleep schedule Try not to vary the hours when you go to bed and when you wake up, even on weekends. A consistent sleep schedule trains your body to go to sleep and wake up at set times.
Develop relaxing bedtime rituals Listen to soft music, sip a cup of herbal tea or warm milk, or meditate.
Limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine Insomniacs may be hypersensitive to caffeine, and even small amounts may affect your sleep. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep, but it interferes with deep sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant and deters sleep.
Limit your intake of food right before bed Eat no more than a light snack within the last two to three hours before bed. A large, heavy meal can interfere with your sleep.
Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex Move the television to another room. Don’t initiate important relationship discussions or have arguments in the bedroom.
Clear your mind of anxious thoughts Before you retire to the bedroom, write down anything you need to remember for tomorrow so that you don’t have to worry as you go to bed.
Exercise early in the day Exercising late in the day can make you feel too awake to sleep.
Take a hot bath to induce a drop in your body temperature The onset of sleep is correlated with a drop in body temperature . If you have difficulty going to sleep, take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime so that your temperature has to decrease afterwards.

Tried counting sheep?

Sleep is as essential to you as food, air, and water. Yet sometime in your life you may experience difficulty in sleeping (about one in three adults report some degree of insomnia at any one time). If you do have trouble sleeping, several changes in lifestyle can help you regain a satisfactory sleep pattern. Experiment with these helpful strategies offered here.

Five basic strategies

1. Never oversleep

Never oversleep because of a poor night's sleep. This is the most crucial rule. Get up at about the same time every day, especially on the morning after you've lost sleep. Sleeping late for just a couple of days can reset your body clock to a different cycle -- you'll be getting sleepy later and waking up later.


2. Set your body clock

Light helps restart your body clock to its active daytime phase. So when you get up, go outside and get some sunlight. Or if that's difficult, turn on all the lights in your room.
Then walk around for a few minutes. The calves of your legs act as pumps and get blood circulating, carrying more oxygen to your brain to help get you going.

3. Exercise

Keep physically active during the day. This is especially important the day after a bad night's sleep. When you sleep less, you should be more active during the day. Being less active is one of the worst things an insomniac can do.
Strenuous exercise (brisk walking, swimming, jogging, squash, etc.) in late afternoon seems to promote more restful sleep. Also, insomniacs tend to be too inactive a couple of hours before bed. Do some gentle exercise. A stretching routine has helped many people.

4. Don't nap

Do not take any naps the day after you've lost sleep. When you feel sleepy, get up and do something. Walk, make the bed, or do your errands.
While studying, get up regularly (every 30 minutes, or more often if necessary) to walk around your room. Do a gentle stretch. That will increase the flow of oxygen to your brain and help you to be more alert.

5. Set a bedtime schedule using these two steps:

First, try to go to bed at about the same time every night. Be regular. Most people get hungry at 7 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. because they've eaten at those times for years. Going to bed at about the same time every night can make sleep as regular as hunger.
Second, go to bed later when you are having trouble sleeping. If you're only getting five hours of sleep a night during your insomnia period, don't go to bed until just five hours before your wake-up time. For instance, if you've been waking up at 7 a.m., don't go to bed until 2 a.m. No naps! Make the time you spend in bed sleep time. Still some insomnia? Go to bed proportionately later. Then, as your time in bed becomes good sleep time, move your going-to-bed time back 15 to 30 minutes a night and do that for a week or so.
This is the opposite of what we want to do: we want to go to bed earlier to make up the lost sleep. Learn to do what many sleep laboratories teach -- go to bed later the night after losing sleep.

Additional strategies

Develop a bedtime routine

Stop studying and don't get into any stimulating discussions or activities a half hour or hour before bed. Do something that's relaxing -- read "light" material, play your guitar, listen to music that is quiet, catch a mindless TV show. Some people sleep better in a clean and neat environment, so they like to straighten and clean their room just before going to bed. Find your own sleep-promoting routine.


Warm bath, yes; shower, no

Take a long, hot bath before going to bed. This helps relax and soothe your muscles. Showers, on the other hand, tend to wake you up. Insomniacs should avoid showers in the evening.


Keep a pad and pencil handy. If you think of something you want to remember, jot it down. Then let the thought go. There will be no need to lie awake worrying about remembering it.

Stretch and relaxation

Some people find that a gentle stretching routine for several minutes just before getting into bed helps induce sleep. Others practice relaxation techniques. Libraries or bookstores have books on developing stretching or relaxation routines. The University Counseling Services has some material on both: try

To eat or not to eat

Some sleep centers recommend a light breakfast and lunch to help you stay alert during the day. They advise you to make the evening meal the major meal of the day. Schedule it at least four hours before bedtime so your digestive system will be reasonably quiet by the time you're ready to sleep.

Warm milk?

It helps some people to have a glass at bedtime. Milk has an essential amino acid, tryptophan, which stimulates the brain chemical serotonin, believed to play a key role in inducing sleep. A piece of whole wheat bread, or another carbohydrate, enhances the effect. Or try taking tryptophan, beginning with about two grams about an hour before bedtime. A piece of wheat bread will help the tryptophan to be absorbed.

Avoid caffeine and tyrosine-rich foods from late afternoon on

Caffeine, a chemical in coffee, colas, tea, chocolate, etc., causes hyperactivity and wakefulness. Some sleep laboratories encourage people to avoid such tyrosine-laden foods as fermented cheeses (cheddar is about the worst; cottage cheese and yogurt are OK), ripe avocados, some imported beers, and fermented meats (bologna, pepperoni, salami). Also avoid red wines, especially chianti.

Cut down on alcohol

Alcohol might help you get to sleep, but it results in shallow and disturbed sleep, abnormal dream periods, and frequent early morning awakening.

Sleeping pills

Reasons to avoid sleeping pills include disturbed sleep patterns, short-term amnesia, and impaired motor skills. Research shows that benzodiazepine hypnotics, the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills, impair short-term memory, reaction time, thinking, and visual-motor coordination (such as driving).

Worrying about insomnia?

Focusing on insomnia might make it worse. After all, you won't die from it! It is frequently a symptom of something else excessive worry or anxiety about grades, money, relationships, etc. If you think a particular worry might be keeping you awake, get up, find paper and a pencil, and jot down something you can do about that worry tomorrow. Put the note where you'll see it when you wake up. You can set aside your worry and use the remainder of the night for restful sleep. If necessary, use the strategies already described to get back into a regular sleep pattern.

In bed and unable to sleep?

If you are in bed and unable to sleep, many experts suggest getting completely out of bed, sitting in a chair, and reading, writing letters, or doing some quiet activity. As you get sleepy, go back to bed and use a relaxation technique to fall asleep. Make your bed a place to sleep, not a place to get other things done.
Don't get mad at yourself! Try not to worry about not sleeping. Your body's wisdom will take over and you'll begin sleeping regularly as long as you use the five basic strategies described earlier.


The role of exercise cannot be stressed enough! Adding regular exercise -- brisk walking, riding an exercycle (perhaps while watching TV), swimming -- has helped many people sleep better. The more active your body is during the day, the more likely it is that you'll be able to go to sleep when it's time for your body to be quiet. Quiet time for sleep needs to be a contrast to a more active day.;

Waking up at night?

What should you do when you're awake after just two, three, or four hours of sleep? Do not drink, eat, or smoke when you wake up. If you do, you'll find yourself waking up for them after just three or four nights of such treats.
Do get out of bed, read, write letters, or do some quiet activity. Reactions to the stresses of everyday life can result in a level of sleep that is easily interrupted. A good stress-management program can help. Contact your counseling service for such a program.

Awake 4 or 5 am? Now what?

Get up and begin the day. If you're rested, you've probably had enough sleep and have a head start on most people. If you're still tired, get up anyway and go through the day, avoiding naps. Start the routines suggested in the basic strategies.
Build an exercise program and stress-management training into your life. By learning to be less stressed during the day, you also learn to sleep better at night.

Not managing stress very well?

Difficulty in effectively managing normal, everyday stress in life is a common problem. A frequent reaction to daily stresses is insomnia, either sleep-onset insomnia or sleep-interrupting insomnia.

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