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AARP Smart Guide to Better Sleep

Learn 43 ways to help you get a good night’s rest and wake up feeling more refreshed

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Since a third of our lives is spent sleeping, you’d think we’d all be experts at it. Yet for many Americans suffering from chronic sleep problems, falling — and staying — asleep is anything but easy. If you’ve spent restless nights tossing and turning, chasing sleep that just won’t come, you don’t have to live in groggy agony. Here are steps to fine-tune your sleep routine, so you, too, can drift off to dreamland more easily.


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1. Learn your numbers

In your 20s, you needed eight to nine hours of sleep, but in your 50s, you need about an hour less, says Nalaka Gooneratne, M.D., a sleep medicine physician and geriatrician at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Listen to your body to find the amount of sleep that’s best for you. Although some people may do better with less sleep, for most adults, getting seven to eight hours per night of quality sleep is critical for health and well-being, says Wendy M. Troxel, a senior behavioral and social scientist at the Rand Corp. Start by paying attention to your alertness levels during the day as a better measure of sleep quality, suggests Sara Benjamin, M.D., a neurologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine specializing in sleep disorders. If you’re always tired or run-down, it could be a sign you’re not getting enough — or enough quality — sleep. Sleepiness or brain fog could signal a medical issue, such as sleep apnea, so you’ll want to get that checked out.

2. Avoid light before bedtime

To signal your body it’s time to wind down, do your best to reduce bright light exposure in the evening and at night. Take small steps such as using low-light table lamps instead of bright overhead lights indoors at night and wearing sunglasses if you’re going to be outside in the summertime after dinner, Benjamin suggests. “You want to prioritize less bright light in the evening and more bright light exposure in the morning,” she says.

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3. Try a sleep mask

“Wearing a sleep mask can improve sleep by addressing several environmental factors, including blocking out any artificial light and creating a dark environment for sleep,” says Funke Afolabi-Brown, a triple-board-certified sleep medicine physician. “This facilitates the production of the sleep hormone melatonin as darkness serves as a signal to the melatonin production center in the brain called the pineal gland, and less light exposure makes us less likely to have sleep disruptions and awakenings from light pollution.” W. Chris Winter, who has practiced sleep medicine and neurology in Charlottesville, Virginia, since 2004, loves the portability of sleep masks: “They help to ensure dark hotel rooms and better odds of falling asleep on a plane.” Make sure the mask is comfortable — not too tight or too loose.

4. Stick to your routine

Once you’ve found your ideal rhythm, stick with it, even on weekends. When it comes to maximizing overall sleep health, “there is nothing better than routine — it’s a must,” says Abhinav Singh, M.D., facility director of the Indiana Sleep Center in Greenwood, Indiana, and medical review panel member for Research has shown that disruptions in sleep regularity — including wide swings in waking and sleeping time from day to day — can negatively affect your metabolism, lead to an increased risk of diabetes and even damage overall cardiovascular health.

5. Get daytime light exposure

Light exposure helps drive the body’s circadian rhythm, which is key to the natural sleep-wake cycle. The presence of light sends a signal to the body that it’s time to be awake — and the absence means it’s time to go to sleep. With this fact in mind, you can boost your body’s natural wake-sleep differential by getting outside for some sunshine at least a little while each day — best if done in the morning. “Light is by far the strongest cue to our circadian rhythm, but you have to consistently expose the body to light and dark cues over a few weeks in order to really set and strengthen it,” says Oregon State University assistant professor Jessee Dietch, a psychologist certified in behavioral sleep medicine who runs the school’s Sleep Health Assessment, Intervention and Dissemination lab. If you live in a region that’s often overcast, as Dietch does, consider investing in a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) therapy light to boost your daytime light exposure. These added rays during the day could help your body feel sleepy come nighttime, when the lights go out. According to the Mayo Clinic, look for a light that provides an exposure of 10,000 lux and produces as little ultraviolet as possible. Use it the first hour you wake up for 20 to 30 minutes. Position the light 16 to 24 inches away from your face, and keep your eyes open, but don’t stare directly at the light. Models range in price from around $25 to $200. Keep in mind the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate light boxes and health insurance typically doesn’t cover them.

6. Understand your chronotype

Your chronotype is your preferred time of day for normal activities, or your underlying circadian rhythm. Divided into four categories — bear, wolf, lion, dolphin — chronotypes tell you when to sleep according to your internal clock. (Yes, we’ve advanced beyond early birds and night owls!) Most people are considered bears: They sleep and wake according to the sun. The wolf chronotype prefers to wake at noon, and lions like to rise early and are productive until about noon. Dolphins, well, they have trouble following any schedule and are most productive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To find out which chronotype you are, experiment — without an alarm clock — over two to three weeks to find your natural sleep rhythms, suggests Alicia Roth, a clinical health psychologist with Cleveland Clinic who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine. Go to bed when you feel sleepy. Get up when your body wakes naturally. If you find yourself feeling alert and well rested as a result, make this sleep-wake cycle your go-to, and read more about your chronotype to tap into more tips.

7. Limit alcohol before bed

For best sleep quality, don’t drink alcohol at least four hours before bedtime. “Alcohol absolutely disturbs sleep, so reducing alcohol intake close to bedtime is a solid tip,” Dietch says. A drink may initially help you feel relaxed and sleepy, but studies have repeatedly shown that alcohol disrupts the body’s normal sleep stages, including reducing the deep sleep and REM cycles that are key for overall sleep quality. In addition, the extra liquid before bed can lead to a need to urinate during the night that wakes you from slumber.

8. Cut down on caffeine

If you’ve been having trouble kicking that late-afternoon coffee habit, try again. Or at least order decaf. Science has consistently shown drinking caffeine within six hours of bedtime leads to disrupted sleep. Specifically, late-day caffeine intake can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm, prolong the time it takes to fall asleep, and reduce sleep length and quality. To get a better night’s rest, relegate your caffeinated drinks to breakfast and lunch — or skip them altogether, and be mindful of other ways you ingest caffeine, such as through chocolate.

9. Try skipping naps

If you struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep at night, daytime naps could be part of the problem. Every person has a maximum amount of hours their body likes to sleep per 24-hour time frame, and if you tap into that total for daytime naps, your nighttime sleep may suffer, says Mohan Dutt, M.D., a sleep specialist at the University of Michigan Health Sleep Disorders Centers and cocreator of White Noise: A Sleep Medicine Podcast. If you must take a daily nap, limit it to 15-20 minutes, Dutt advises. If you have a habit of napping at a certain time or place each day, say in your recliner after lunch, switch up your routine and add a walk at that time to avoid the temptation of prolonged daytime snoozing. Here’s how to take productive naps.

10. Exercise your brain and body

Getting adequate daily exercise improves overall sleep quality and can help you fall asleep more quickly, research has shown. A 2015 study showed getting just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week helped improve participants’ chronic insomnia. A 2021 review looking at the effects of exercise on sleep quality and insomnia in adults published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry suggested that regular physical, as well as mind-body exercise primarily improved subjective sleep quality rather than physiological sleep quality in adults. “I like to say exercise is the best sleeping pill,” Roth says. “I very much advocate for people who have retired to find ways to stay mentally or physically active during the day — it’s very important to your sleep.”  Many sleep guidelines recommend avoiding high-intensity physical activity in the hour or two before bedtime, but a 2021 analysis questioned that restriction, finding no solid link between nighttime exercise and sleep disruption for most people. So feel free to get moving, whenever it fits into your schedule.

11. Have a reason to wake up

It may be tempting to fall into erratic patterns of staying up late and dozing in bed into the midmorning if retirement leaves you with no clear-cut schedule. To help build a healthier routine — and more consistent sleep schedule — devise fun reasons to get up and get going in the morning. “You need a purpose or motivation to get out of bed,” says Rafael Pelayo, M.D., a sleep medicine specialist with Stanford Health Care and author of How to Sleep: The New Science-Based Solutions for Sleeping Through the Night. “Plan a regular breakfast or coffee outing with friends or an exercise walk with others,” Pelayo says. “It’s a great way to stay connected and give purpose to your morning.”

12. Try nasal strips for better breathing

Over-the-counter nasal strips — such as Breathe Right or Clear Passage or nasal dilators, like AirMax Nasal Dilators — can help keep your nasal passages open, meaning less snoring and stuffiness, two things that can lead to less than stellar sleep. Although strips may help reduce nighttime awakenings and improve daytime functioning, it is important to rule out disorders such as sleep apnea, which typically can’t be adequately treated by nasal strips.

13. Try a breathing exercise

Although there’s not much data behind this technique, you can try it to see if it helps calm you. The 4-7-8 breath, which was developed by author Andrew Weil, is a form of rhythmic breathing in yoga called pranayama. Keep your tongue behind your upper front teeth for both inhales and exhales. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound. Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4. Then hold your breath to the count of 7. Exhale through your mouth again, making another “whoosh” sound, counting to 8. Only do this for four rounds, and practice it twice (at a minimum) daily for four weeks for best results.

14. Sleep on your side

Sleep positions can help or hurt some health issues. If you’re not a regular side sleeper, it might be worth trying. If you have trouble falling asleep due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — associated with heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux — sleeping on your left side may better position your stomach and esophagus, giving you some relief. Slightly elevating the head of the bed or using a foam wedge to keep your head higher than your chest may also treat the symptoms. Also consider trying pillows between your knees, if on your side.


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15. Turn your bedroom into a sleep retreat

“When you start thinking about your bedroom differently and you treat it as a recovery room or a sleep sanctuary, it helps shift your mindset around the products you’re going to put in there,” says JD Velilla, head of sleep experience for Serta Simmons Bedding. Sometimes scent can help, such as lavender, which has been shown to support sleep quality. Keep your room clutter-free, which will make it more comfortable and inviting, making sleep feel like a treat.

16. Turn the temperature down

Four out of 5 Americans report sleeping better in a cool room than a hot one, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll. A 2012 study by researchers at Tohoku Fukushi University in Japan found that heat exposure increases wakefulness and disrupts slow wave sleep and REM sleep. To avoid a night spent tossing and turning, try keeping your bedroom thermostat set between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. “There’s no magical, exact ideal temperature, but you should feel cold,” Singh says. “Cooler is better. If you’re feeling the need to pull up a comforter, that’s good.”

17. Try cooling, natural fiber sheets

If you’re waking up covered in sweat, opt for sheets made from natural fibers, such as cotton and linen, which are the most breathable and cooling. Or try percale sheets, with a thread count of 200 or higher, making it a lighter fabric. Additionally, look for “moisture-wicking” sheets, made from material that can effectively wick away sweat. Tencel and bamboo may also work for you. Try sleeping on a buckwheat pillow, which is more cooling than traditional latex or down, advises Shelby Harris, director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

18. Shut down — and out — light

As mentioned earlier, light plays a big role in our circadian rhythm, which is why it’s important to have a dark bedroom for sleep. Light can also elevate your heart rate and increase insulin resistance. Turn off the internal lights, and if there’s light outside, hang dark curtains or blackout shades. You could try the “power-down hour,” which recommends 20 minutes doing tasks before bed; 20 minutes on brushing teeth, flossing and other hygiene; then 20 minutes doing something relaxing.

19. Add ambient noise

It’s often noise that disrupts  sleep: outside traffic or sirens, barking dogs or apartment neighbors. To drown out the racket, consider investing in a white noise machine (which start around $15 and go up from there, depending on options) or using a relaxing sleep sounds app. Experiment to find the sounds that best send you off to slumber. White noise is recommended, but try other sonic hues, such as pink, brown or black. Multiple apps offer both free and subscription-based options featuring sounds that may induce slumber. White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds (iOS and Android) includes cricket, rain and ocean sounds. The app myNoise (iOS and Android) generates ambient sounds. And BetterSleep (iOS and Android) features bedtime stories and meditations along with multiple sounds.

20. Find your pain points

Recognize what’s interrupting your z’s. Are you too hot? Is the room too bright? Is the bedding scratching you? Are your neck and back uncomfortable? Jot the sources of your interruptions down. Then systematically address these issues via trial and error. Introduce softer sheets or lighter, more breathable bedding. Sample a new style of pillow. Try dialing back your room temperature. Add blackout shades on the window or remove other sources of light. “Look at your sleep environment and notice what disturbs you,” Velilla says. “If something wakes you in the middle of the night, write it down and then see if you can find a product or solution for it.”

Video: Find Your Best Sleep Position

21. Save your bed for sleep and sex

If you’re guilty of reading, working, phone scrolling or watching TV in bed, you may inadvertently be sabotaging an easy path to sleep. Roth and Dutt agree: Your bed should be reserved only for sleep and intimacy. That’s it. Unless you’re diligent about drawing this line, your “mind starts to associate the bed as a place where you do other things, as opposed to a place where you sleep,” Dutt says. If your sleep quality has been suffering, move your pre-sleep wind-down routine to the living room and head to the bedroom only when you feel ready to close your eyes.

22. Don’t go to bed if you’re not sleepy

Building on this idea, don’t head to bed — even if it is your usual bedtime — if you’re not feeling ready for sleep. “Never get into bed with the hope that you’re going to become sleepy. That’s Sleep 101. It’s the most foundational recommendation I give,” Roth says. “We don’t go stand in front of the refrigerator with the hope that we’re going to get hungry. Rather, we feel hungry, and then we act on it. It should be the same with sleep: You should feel sleepy and act on it.” If you’re struggling to feel sleepy, try meditating or taking a soothing bath — then head to bed when you feel ready to doze off.

23. Take a warm bath

“There is some truth to the old adage that a warm bath or shower may facilitate better sleep,” Troxel says. “One of the key signals to our brain that it is time for sleep is a drop in core body temperature, and a warm bath or shower is not only relaxing and a good way to unwind before bedtime, but when you get out of the warm water, it causes a drop in core body temperature, which sends a signal to the brain that it is time for sleep.”

24. Try a weighted blanket

Many have found extra comfort in using a weighted blanket, which can contain glass beads, plastic pellets, ball bearings, rice, grain, beans or sand. They weigh 5 to 30 pounds and cost $25 to much more, depending on weight, fabric type, size and filler material. “Weighted blankets provide a gentle, even pressure and a sensation of deep touch, which sometimes helps improve sleep, especially in people with sensory issues,” Afolabi-Brown says. “It has been found to decrease restlessness in people struggling to stay still during sleep.”

25. Have a glass of warm milk
If your mother or father gave you a glass of warm milk as a child to help you sleep, they may have been on to something. Though the evidence about the use of warm milk to optimize sleep is limited and mixed, there are some indications  of benefits, according to Afolabi-Brown. “For one thing, milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid involved in serotonin and melatonin production, both of which play key roles in regulating the sleep-wake cycle,” she says. “The warmth of the milk may also have a comforting and soothing effect, contributing to a sense of relaxation before bedtime.” Studies have shown that malted milk is better — but be sure to not overdo it so you’re not getting up in the night to go to the bathroom.

26. Give yourself an off-ramp to sleep

Allow your brain the time and space it needs to settle down for sleep. Presleep activities that relax and calm you signal your body that the day is coming to an end. Do yoga, chat with your spouse, read, listen to relaxing music or a mindfulness app, or write in a journal. Singh calls this building a “ramp” to sleep — or, in another analogy, he likens it to arriving at the airport early for your flight. “Sleep is not a switch,” he says. “It’s like a flight. If you have a 10 p.m. flight, you’re not arriving at the airport at 10 p.m.” In other words: Don’t neglect your nighttime sleep-prep routine. Dietch agrees: “I think it’s essential to have a solid wind-down routine that’s at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour — though some people need even longer,” she says. “The more you build that routine and keep it consistent night to night, the more it will set you up to coast into sleep.”

27. Put the electronics away …

Let’s face it, you’ve heard this tip before, but here’s a reminder: Blue light from electronics before bedtime can interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythm and sleep cycles. “For people very sensitive to blue light — which is essentially the same wavelength that’s emitted by the sun — light from TVs and phones and tablets can kind of trick the brain into thinking that it’s still daytime,” Dutt says. If you’re severely struggling to sleep well, Dutt recommends cutting off your screen time at least two hours before bedtime. If it’s difficult to avoid the temptation, recharge your devices in another room.

28. … unless you’re watching reruns

If you simply can’t give up your presleep screen habit entirely, Dietch and Roth offer a loophole: Gravitate toward reruns on late-night TV. As long as you’re using screens to relax, they can be an acceptable part of your wind-down routine, they say. “It’s more about the function of the behavior. You probably don’t want to scroll Facebook or Twitter or a news site before bed — because that’s going to get you revved up,” Dietch says. “But if you’re playing sudoku or watching reruns of Friends, I don’t have a problem with it.” Roth agrees: “I’m absolutely OK with reruns of old TV shows, because it’s like comfort food,” she says. “You already know what’s going to happen. Watching reruns is a great way to wind your brain and body down.”

29. Schedule anxious thoughts

If you’re a person whose thoughts tend to run crazy just as you’re about to sleep — to-do lists for tomorrow, past missteps, future worries, whether you left wet clothes in the washing machine — try to carve out time earlier in your day to have these thoughts and write them down or act on them, as appropriate. “I call it scheduled worry time,” Roth says. By addressing your mental checklist earlier in the evening, say after dinner, you’ll feel more proactive because you can still address or tend to some of them (clothes moved to the dryer, check). Above all, if you’re in bed and having trouble shutting off spiraling thoughts, get up and do something. Read for a few minutes. Do some stretching. Listen to a sleep app. Redirect your mind elsewhere until you feel ready for sleep. “People often ask me, ‘How do I turn off my brain when I get into bed?’” Roth says. “I flip that and say, ‘Don’t get into bed if your brain is doing that.’ If your mind is racing, it means you weren’t sleepy enough to get into bed.”

30. Kick Fido off the bed

Though it’s a comfort to let your pets sleep with you, it may affect your ability to get quality sleep. A 2017 study from the Mayo Clinic on the effect of dogs on human sleep in the home found that, in general, sleeping with a dog in the bedroom did not hinder sleep, but having the dog on the bed did. Michael J. Breus, a clinical sleep psychologist, sleep specialist and founder of Sleep Doctor, says if people are awakened by their dog, they typically fall fast asleep again.


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31. Recognize shifting sleep patterns

If you feel like your sleep quality has been declining the older you get, you might be right. “People tend to have 2 to 3 percent less deep sleep per decade [of age],” Benjamin says. “Plus, as people get older, they tend to take longer to fall asleep.” Some sleep pattern shifts are normal, but if you frequently find yourself lacking energy or feeling sleepy during the day, consider taking steps — such as the ones outlined here — to get back in control of your sleep rhythms. And if you’re truly struggling, speak up. “You should make sleep health part of your routine conversations with your physician at your annual wellness checkups,” Singh says. “Once you get past 50, sleep problems become more prevalent.”

32. Get checked for sleep apnea

If you snore loudly — especially if your sleep partner says they sometimes hear you gasping for air — ask your doctor if you could have sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder that disrupts breathing. “Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but it’s a pretty good indicator that you could have sleep apnea,” Dutt says. Though obstructive sleep apnea commonly affects men and those with a high body mass index, “anyone can have sleep apnea,” Roth says. Your physician may send you to a lab for an overnight sleep test or order an at-home sleep apnea test as a first step in screening you for the condition. Don’t let embarrassment about snoring prevent you from seeking an evaluation. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a host of health problems, including diabetes, stroke and heart attacks.

33. Time your prescriptions

The timing of your prescriptions and supplements can affect your sleep. Some, such as diuretics for blood pressure, can lead to more nighttime trips to the bathroom, says Karl Doghramji, M.D., director of the Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center in Philadelphia. Others, including antidepressant SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), can energize or sedate. Ask your doctor about the best time to take meds to ensure they won’t interfere with your bedtime.

34. Don’t use antihistamines to sleep

Although taking the antihistamine Benadryl or the generic version, diphenhydramine, often has the welcomed side effect of drowsiness, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine does not recommend relying on them as a sleep aid. Typically, the sleep isn’t quality, and antihistamines’ other side effects — altered mental state, urinary retention, constipation and dry mouth — can lead to more problems.

35. Look closely at supplements

Don’t take melatonin or other herbal or hormonal supplements marketed as sleep aids without talking to your doctor first. You might be surprised to learn that “the American Academy of Sleep Medicine does not recommend the use of melatonin for the treatment of [chronic] insomnia,” Dutt says. “We do prescribe melatonin, but only for other, specific sleep disorders.” Every now and then is OK, but if you’re taking it more than once a week, you’re doing more harm than good. Use it sparingly — to get over jet lag, for instance.

36. Have your eyes checked

If you’re experiencing erratic sleep patterns — such as falling asleep early in the evening — cataracts could be the culprit. “Folks who have cataracts don’t get as much light coming into their eyes. So there's not a strong signal to the brain that it’s still daylight out, and they may fall asleep a little earlier,” Pelayo explains. Get your eyes checked and see about cataract correction surgery, if needed. Studies have shown that patients sleep better and have improved circadian rhythm once their cataracts are removed.

37. Think twice before reaching for sleep aids

Following guidelines set by the American Geriatrics Society, most physicians avoid prescribing sleep aids for patients over 65 because these drugs are associated with an increased risk for falls, which are especially dangerous for older adults, Dutt says. Long-term use of prescription sleep aids has been linked to potential health side effects, including hallucinations, cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of cancer. In the June 2023 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a study looking at data from a 10-year period suggested that using sleep medications may elevate dementia risk. Though very occasional use of over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids may be safe, don’t fall into a pattern of dependency. “If you find yourself reaching for these bottles every night, it’s time to have a talk with a professional,” Singh says.

38. Don’t just toss and turn

If you can’t sleep, don’t just lie there. Tossing and turning or staring anxiously at the clock will just make things worse. Do a mindless chore such as folding clothes. Then, when you feel drowsy, go back to bed. “You want to avoid any time in bed that you’re not sleeping,” Dutt says.

39. Remember that sleep is a skill

“It’s a skill to sleep well,” Roth says. “We can learn to get better at it.” Take heart in knowing you can improve your sleep quality with practice and careful adherence to a curated routine — or with help from a specialist in behavioral sleep or sleep medicine, if needed. Losing sleep and feeling tired night after night isn’t fun or healthy. But as challenging as it may be, try not to get caught up in a cycle of frustration — that will make things worse. “Sleep is one of those things that the harder you try to grasp onto it, the more it can elude you,” Dietch says. Singh agrees: “If you have poor sleep, you start worrying about not sleeping well, and that begets more poor sleep. You have to break those rhythms.” Remember that some of these techniques and strategies may help and some  may not. “Can they set the stage for a slightly improved or supplemented sleep? Yes. To me, it's like asking, ‘Does Muscle Milk really work?’” Winter says. “If by work, you mean drinking it, making your biceps grow instantly, no. It provides a foundation of more protein that might be useful within an appropriate and consistent exercise plan.”

40. Find a tailored solution

Your neighbors swear by their white noise machine. Your brother-in-law insists an orthopedic pillow is the key to blissful sleep. Even the guy at the gym had an idea to share when you mentioned you’ve had trouble sleeping. You’ve likely heard them all. But be aware: Sleep routines that work for others may not immediately work for you. Use trial and error to discover the wind-down activities and bedroom ambiance settings that best fit your own sleep style. “Sleep behaviors and sleep skills are not a one-size-fits-all thing. They’re very individual,” Roth says. “A lot of people feel frustrated when they come to us [at Cleveland Clinic]. They’re smart. They’ve looked online and read all the general recommendations, but perhaps they’ve not applied to them. Sometimes the solution has to be very tailored to you and your own needs.”

41. Look at other health issues

The number of health conditions linked to poor or inadequate sleep is almost endless, with obesity, diabetes and heart disease topping the list. Restless leg syndrome, which is more common in older adults and frequently occurs at night, could keep you from sleeping. Menopause, chronic pain, a stressful or traumatic experience, depression and more can all affect your sleep, and the root cause of insomnia may be one or many factors. Pay attention to your health, and talk to your health team if you’ve experienced any recent changes in your life that could affect your slumber.

42. Seek professional help if needed

If you struggle with chronic insomnia or another sleep disorder — such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or narcolepsy — don’t put off seeking professional help. Sleep specialists can steer you to an appropriate treatment. In the case of insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-I) is particularly effective. Studies have shown 50 to 75 percent of CBT-I participants experienced improved overall sleep quality after treatment. “It works amazingly well, and yet there’s a PR problem, since so many people don’t know about it,” Dietch says. To find someone trained in CBT-I, search for sleep psychologists or dedicated sleep clinics in your area.

43. Consider “sleep divorcing”

If you have a partner who keeps you up at night due to tossing and turning, snoring or another cause, consider alternative sleeping arrangements, Troxel recommends. That could mean separate beds or even separate bedrooms.  “While there is no evidence that a ‘sleep divorce’ can lead you to an actual divorce, there is strong evidence that sleepless nights can lead to relationship strife,” she says. “So, for your own health and the health of your relationship, be open to discussing the sleeping strategy that will work best for your partner and you.”


This content was reviewed by Aatif M. Husain, M.D., a board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine physician and chief of the Division of Epilepsy, Sleep, and Clinical Neurophysiology at Duke University Medical Center. He has expertise in neurology, sleep medicine, epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology.

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