Counting Sheep to Fall Asleep...Does it work

Experts agree that the time-honored practice of counting sheep or doing another such monotonous task may help induce sleep. Sleep specialists provide these additional tips to help you reach dreamland:

  • Avoid caffeine (including caffeine-containing drugs), nicotine, and alcohol for four to six hours before bedtime. The first two are stimulants that can make it difficult to sleep. And while alcohol may have a sedating effect at first, it tends to disturb sleep after several hours.
  • Don't exercise within four to six hours of bedtime. Working out earlier in the day, though, can actually improve sleep.
  • Perform relaxing rituals before bed, such as taking a warm bath, listening to relaxing music, or eating a light snack.
  • Before going to bed, try as much as possible to put your worries out of your mind and plan to address them another time.
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping. To preserve the association between bed and slumber, don't watch television or do work in bed.
  • Go to bed only when sleepy. If you can't fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed and read a book or do another relaxing activity for a while, rather than trying harder to fall asleep.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and the bedroom is conducive to restful sleep - quiet and at a comfortable temperature, for example.
  • Wake up about the same time every day, even on weekends, to normalize the sleep-wake schedule.
  • Don't take naps, or nap during the mid-afternoon for no more than 30 minutes.

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