Daytime

  • Stick to a regular schedule. Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including on weekends.
  • Spend a little time in the sun. Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes each day. If possible, wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning.
  • Exercise and stay active. Get at least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily, but make sure it's at least five to six hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Caffeine after lunchtime and nicotine at any time of the day can keep you from falling asleep at night. Alcohol, while it may initially make you feel sleepy, can cause frequent awakenings.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bed. A light snack is fine, but eating too much food late in the evening can interfere with sleep. Drink less before bedtime so that you won't have to urinate as often.
  • Avoid or limit naps. Naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you can't get by without one, try to limit a nap to no more than 30 minutes and don't nap after 3 p.m.

When to contact your doctor

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the sleep you need.

Sep. 28, 2013 See more In-depth