10 tips to help you sleep

People with sleeplessness, a very common sleep disorder, often find it hard to fall or stay asleep.

This can cause big trouble the next day, impairing function, energy, and mood. So what can you do to get a good night's sleep? Here are 10 tips.

Avoid alcohol.

While alcoholic drinks can help lull you into a light sleep, that's not the whole story. Alcohol actually deprives you of REM sleep and deep sleep, the restorative stage of sleep that helps you feel energized the next day. What's more, it's tough to stay asleep once the sleepy effects of the nightcap wear off and the alcohol begins to metabolize and wake your brain.

Cut the caffeine.

It may take up to eight hours after consuming caffeine for the effects to wear off, so avoid caffeine products later in the day. And if you're already sleep deprived, don't count on caffeine to keep you going. It may keep you awake for a little while, but it won't help you catch up on lost sleep.

Nix the nicotine.

Nicotine is a stimulant, so it can keep you awake. Smokers are often light sleepers. If you're a heavy smoker or chew tobacco, you may also wake up at night because of withdrawal symptoms. Stopping smoking will improve your overall health and, without nicotine in your system, you'll more likely to get a better nights sleep.

Exercise early.

We all know the many benefits of getting exercise. Regular physical activity can even aid you in getting to sleep. But exercising within 2 hours of bedtime may complicate your slumber. Try to get your workouts in earlier in the day. Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.

Keep the light out.

Bright lights might be a distraction from sound sleep. Close your curtains or shades to control the amount of light where you sleep.

Don't let time tick by.

You're probably all-too familiar with the cruel cycle of sleeplessness. The more you worry about falling asleep, the more frustrated and anxious you become when you can't. And the more anxious you get, the harder it is to fall asleep! Try these tips:

Turn your alarm clock toward the wall so you're not constantly checking the time.

If you don't fall asleep within a few minutes, get up and do something else. Go to another room and try reading or listening to music until you feel tired.

Root yourself in routine.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to maintain a regular sleep pattern—all part of good sleep hygiene. Think sleeping in on the weekend is a good idea? Think again. Staying under the covers for longer on the weekends actually makes it harder to get out of bed on Monday. And it also doesn't help you catch up on sleep lost during the week.

Eliminate late-day naps.

Avoid naps later in the day, since they can cause trouble when trying to fall asleep at night.

Ban big meals.

Heavy eating before bedtime can trigger indigestion, which can interrupt sleep.

Kick back and relax.

Give yourself some time to unwind before bed. Here are some helpful tips for relaxation:

-Take a warm bath

-Read a book or magazine

-Keep electronic devices and computers out of the bedroom

-Practice relaxation routines, such as meditation or muscle relaxation

-Listen to soothing music

Talk it over.

If these self-care tips don't work for you and you still have recurring sleeplessness, or if you often experience daytime sleepiness, talk with your doctor. Your doctor can identify any health issues that may be affecting your sleep and can help you develop effective sleep strategies and therapies to eliminate your sleep debt.