Sleep Tips
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Suggestions for a Good Night’s Sleep

Excerpted from John Preston, Ph.D.


Difficulty falling asleep, fitful sleep, and early morning awakenings are troublesome on their own.  But in the absence of a good night’s rest, we also wake up irritable, fatigued, depressed and with poorer cognitive functioning.  “Deep Sleep”(slow or delta-wave sleep) is  necessary for the manufacture of important neurotransmitters that keep us alert and happy.  The suggestions below are known to help one fall asleep and have sufficient deep sleep.



  • Go outdoors in the bright light for 10 minutes each morning.  This helps regulate the circadian rhythm.
  • If you do not happen to sleep well, do not try to sleep in or take a nap during the day.  By evening, you’ll be ready to make up for the lost sleep.
  • Daily exercise helps one sleep better and deeper.
  • Choose a regular sleep schedule and keep to it.  This helps keep the circadian rhythm (24hr sleep-wake cycle) stable.

 Evening Routine

  • Avoid large meals lat at night.  Digestion keeps some people up.
  • Avoid stressful activities in the evening hours.  Don’t pay bills, watch an “intense” movie, etc.
  • Have an evening “sleep routine” that prepares you for sleep.
  • Dim the lights in the evening before bed.
  •  “De-activating” your mind is helpful.  Reading a boring book or watching a boring movie before bed can help.
  • Unnoticed muscle tension can inhibit falling asleep.  A warm bath or Jacuzzi an hour before bed can help.  Systematic Muscle relaxation recordings are helpful as well.
  • Ruminations can be “let go of” by writing them down or recording them before bed.


  • Preserve bed only for sleep (and sex); avoiding reading, phone calls, TV, etc., will train you to anticipate sleep when you’re in bed.
  • Turn down the thermostat or open a window.  You might have to add covers to your bed.  Most people sleep better when it’s cool (60-70 degrees). 
  • If you are too warm, try less covers or run the air conditioning.


  • Avoid any caffeine.  Even if taken before 12 noon, it greatly reduces deep sleep.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant.  Quitting smoking will help your sleep.
  • Do not drink alcohol before bed.  While it may help you fall asleep initially, it greatly reduces deep sleep.
  • Do not take minor tranquilizers (such as Xanax, Valium, etc.) to get to sleep.  Besides the problem of habituation and addiction, they greatly reduce the amount of deep sleep.
  • Sonata and Ambien are better sleep agents as they are in your system only 1 and 2 hours respectively.
  • Antihistamines, such as benedryl, facilitate sleep also, but may lead to weight gain.
  • Over the counter Melatonin, taken at bedtime may help you fall asleep.  But over the counter preparations tend be 2-5 mg which is toxic and interferes with deep sleep.
  • If you want to try Melatonin, take ½ mg at 6 pm.  You may not notice any effect, but it helps reset the circadian rhythm and prepares you for sleep
  • Do not use Sudafed or nasal decongestants at night.  They tend to inhibit deep sleep.   

Medical Conditions

  • Pain can keep one awake.  Use analgesics (Tylenol, aspirin, Advil) or consult your doctor.
  • With menopause, treatment of the hot flashes will usually stop the sleeplessness.
  • 4% of adults and 20% of seniors have sleep apnea.  If your partner says you snore

and you don’t feel rested during the daytime, you might want to have yourself checked.



Wilmes-Reitz Psychological

23945 Calabasas Rd., Suite 202

 Calabasas, California  91302

(818) 591-8270




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