April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Though the value of a good night's sleep is well known, it's not uncommon for people to get far less than the eight hours recommended for peak performance.
The Comprehensive Epilepsy and Sleep Disorders Center at Baylor Regional Medical Center in Texas offers these explanations why, and tips on how to get more shut-eye:
- Control caffeine. The cycle of downing a large cup of coffee to wake up in the morning and more after dinner, whether out of habit or desire to stay up late, counters the body's ability to sleep soundly on its own. Go easy on the caffeine, especially in the six hours before bedtime.
- Stress less. Lying awake at night worrying about responsibilities at home or work does little besides making sleep more difficult, so just let your troubles go at bedtime. "Once your head hits the pillow, your only duty is to sleep," Raul Noriega, manager of the center, said in a Baylor news release.
- Reschedule that nighttime workout. Exercising helps your body, but doing it too close to bedtime might hurt it in the end, because it makes falling asleep more difficult. That's because sleep causes the body temperature to drop about a degree and, if you're heated up from exercise, it could take hours for you to cool down enough for sleep, Noriega said.
- Develop a sleep routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Shut off the TV and music, turn down the lights and take a warm (not hot) shower to build an atmosphere of calm. And you might try reading in bed for a little bit before turning off the lights.
SOURCE: Baylor Health Care System, news release, March 2009