How to Sleep Longer

Four Parts:Preparing Your Room for SleepPreparing Yourself for SleepStaying Asleep LongerUsing a Sleep Aid

Great sleep is something people all over the world long for. It is rightly said that sleeping is an "art" and people must master it. Preparing your body, mind and environment for a good night's rest will go a long way in maximizing the restfulness of your sleep. Sleep patterns vary from person to person and with a little bit of effort, anyone can easily drift into a good sleep!

Part 1
Preparing Your Room for Sleep

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    Use a good, high quality mattress. This is one of the most important things to consider. Good beds don't always mean "soft," so get one that provides good support to your back and make sure you are comfortable sleeping on it.[1]
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    Ensure your head is well supported. Be sure to use a pillow that is comfortable and supportive for your sleeping style. Having the right pillow will ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free. If you are comfortable, you will be more likely to sleep longer.
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    Ensure proper ventilation and temperature. Keep your bedroom properly ventilated so you get plenty of fresh air. Set the temperature of your room appropriately, not too warm or too cold. Typically this will be between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, but you should adjust the temperature so that you feel comfortable. Setting the temperature just slightly cooler than comfortable -- so that you're fine, but still need covers -- will help you sleep.[2]
    • If your room is stuffy, try cracking the window a bit before bed time.
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    Keep a fan running. In addition to providing extra airflow and controlling room temperature, a fan produces a low, consistent level of background noise. This can help eliminate auditory stimuli that keep you from falling and staying asleep.[3]
    • Keep in mind that for some, a fan might not be helpful. If it doesn’t work for you, then don’t use one.
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    Keep your room dark. Try to keep your room dark at all times. Your brain is stimulated by light signal, so keeping a dark room helps you get to sleep faster.[4] You can help with this by installing blackout blinds or curtains
    • This applies even to small lights, like those on your T.V., a digital clock or D.V.D. player. The absence of light eliminates the presence stimuli that can alter or affect your sleeping patterns.
    • If there is some reason you cannot, or do not wish to, install blinds or curtains, you can invest in a sleep mask to help simulate darkness.
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    Eliminate pests and disturbances. Check if your room is free from mosquitoes and other pests. Also, if you have pets in your home, make sure they can’t access your bed or enter your room to avoid disturbances while sleeping.[5]
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    Use scented candles and sprays. There is evidence that it is easier to sleep in a fresh, clean, or nice smelling space. Try spraying your room with a mild room spray to lighten up your mood and the ambience in your bedroom.[6]
    • If you choose to use scented candles, be sure to put them out before falling asleep to avoid fires in the home.

Part 2
Preparing Yourself for Sleep

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    Establish a strict sleep routine. Above all else, you must establish and follow a strict sleeping schedule. This will help you ensure that both your body and mind are prepared to sleep each night.[7] This means that you should go to bed and get up at the same time every single day (even weekends).
    • In the event that it is not possible to get to bed at your usual time, it is important to still get up at the normal time. You may feel a bit more tired, but you will mess up your routine even more if you sleep in. If you are very tired, you can take a power nap during the day. Don't nap for more than 20-30 minutes, though.
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    Exercise during the day. Getting the right amount of physical activity during the day helps prepare your body for sleep each night. Doing light workouts should help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer.[8] You can try activities such as jogging, swimming, or walking.
    • Do not work out right before bed. Getting your adrenaline flowing before bedtime will negatively impact your sleep schedule. Make sure there is at least a two hour gap between the time you exercise and the time you want to go to sleep.
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    Build “wind-down” time into your sleep schedule. After a busy day, it is reasonable to expect that your mind will be trying to process a lot of information. To give your brain some wind-down time, listen to soothing music or read a book for about 10 minutes before going to bed. Try to keep this wind-down period to about 10 minutes, as any longer may risk further sensory stimulation and cut into your sleeping time.[9]
    • Avoid reading on back-lit screens, though, as these tend to disrupt your sleep patterns.[10]
    • Don't try to have deep conversations right before bed, either. If you have a problem with your spouse, for example, don't wait until just before bedtime to bring it up. Resolve your concerns earlier in the day so they don't plague you at night.
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    Don’t eat before bedtime. Finish having your dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed and don’t eat again after dinner. Your body will have an easier time adjusting to sleep if it is not in the process of digestion.[11]
    • That being said, if you feel very hungry before bed, try having a cup of herbal tea or some crackers to curb your hunger. It may also be difficult to sleep if your stomach is rumbling.
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    Cut out caffeine. Caffeine’s energizing effects remain long after you have ingested it.[12] Therefore, limit yourself to about 200mg of coffee (about 2 cups of coffee), and try to ingest your last caffeine at least six hours before bedtime.[13]
    • If you can, try to avoid caffeine altogether, or as much as possible. Some studies suggest that even caffeine digested six hours before bed can have disruptive effects on sleep.[14]
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    Soak your feet. Soaking your legs and feet in warm water for about two minutes before going to bed will help with relaxation and will also increase circulation to that area. Ensuring proper blood flow to your extremities will help eliminate restlessness of your legs.[15]
    • Alternatively, a nice, warm bath or shower just before bedtime can have the same benefits.
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    Use the bathroom right before sleeping. Make sure you use the bathroom before bedtime so you don't have to go during the night, which will disrupt your sleep pattern.[16]
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    Free your airways. Being able to breathe freely is important for a good night’s rest. Lie down and take deep breaths of air before bedtime to clear your nostrils. Avoid sleeping with blankets and pillows over your face.[17]

Part 3
Staying Asleep Longer

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    Wake up with your alarm. It is critical that you do not hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off in the morning. Snoozing interrupts your sleeping patterns and makes you more tired when trying to wake in the morning, while providing you with no additional quality sleep time.[18]
    • Set your alarm for a later time. If you have the time to hit the snooze button and go back to bed after waking in the morning, then you have additional time to sleep in. So, set your alarm for a later time. This will help ensure you get the maximum amount of uninterrupted, quality sleep.[19]
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    Prepare morning necessities the night before. Maybe you need to wake up earlier to make breakfast or a bag lunch for the day or you need the extra time to clean up and groom yourself. One way to sleep longer is to handle these types of issues in the evening before you go to sleep. Make your bag lunch and put it in the fridge. If you need coffee in the morning, set your pot to turn on automatically. If you need to bathe, do it before you go to bed. Making minor adjustments to your nighttime routine can allow you more time to sleep in the morning.[20]
    • It is important to note that showering before bed can contribute to difficulty falling asleep at night, so take a warm bath instead of showering.
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    Stay in bed. If you find that you are waking up frequently throughout the night, try to avoid opening your eyes or getting out of bed. The best tactic is to keep your eyes shut and do not move from a comfortable sleeping position if you awake prematurely. This will help you fall back asleep immediately, leading to longer periods of sleep.[21]
    • If you find that you can’t fall asleep again within 20 minutes of waking up prematurely, then it is likely a lost cause. Wake up and go through your daily routine again so that you will be ready to go to sleep and stay asleep the next night.
    • If it is still several hours before your usual wake up time, try having an herbal tea or reading a book for a few minutes. These things may help you relax enough to fall back asleep.
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    Try to keep your mornings stress-free. While it is not always possible, one way to get more sleep at night is to eliminate pressing or stressful matters from your morning schedule. If you are nervous or anxious about something that will occur in the morning, it can impact your ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night. As such, try to schedule important meetings or other events in the afternoon or evening.[22]

Part 4
Using a Sleep Aid

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    Chronicle your sleeping habits. Before turning to a sleep aid, you should first take note of your existing sleeping patterns and habits. This can help you identify and eliminate any problems impacting your sleep patterns before seeking out a medicinal cure.[23]
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    Visit your doctor. Once you have chronicled your sleeping patterns, speak with your doctor. Sharing this information with a doctor could yield surprisingly simple and effective solutions to your sleep problems. A doctor should also be able to identify and treat any underlying medical issues that are causing or contributing to your sleep deficiency. After seeing a doctor and sharing your sleeping habits with him or her, you will be in a better position to determine if a sleep aid is right for you.[24]
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    Choose a non-habit forming aid. For years, sleep aids were considered a dangerous solution to sleep pattern problems because the user would form a dependency, needing the sleep aid to sleep each night, regardless of the surrounding circumstances. However, recent advances in sleep aid medicine have yielded non-habit forming pills that can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep for longer. Common over-the-counter sleep aids rely on the following active ingredients:
    • Diphenhydramine, which is found in brands such as Benadryl and Unisom SleepGels, is an antihistamine with sedative effects. The side effects of diphenhydramine are dry mouth, drowsiness, blurred vision, urinary retention and constipation.
    • Doxylamine succinate (found in Unisom SleepTabs) also contains a sedating antihistamine. Doxylamine succinate and diphenhydramine have similar side effects.
    • Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate your natural sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin supplements have been shown to be potentially helpful in treating jet lag. It also has been shown to help people fall asleep quicker. Potential side effects to look for are headaches and daytime sleepiness.
    • Valerian supplements have been used as sleep aids in some circumstances. While some research has shown potential therapeutic benefits, other studies have suggested it is ineffective as a sleep aid. Valerian does not seem to cause any side effects in users.[25]
    • Most over-the-counter sleep aids rely on the sedative effects of antihistamines to help users go to sleep. However, people can quickly build a tolerance to antihistamines, making this type of sleep aid a temporary solution at best.[26]
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    Avoid alcohol. Never mix sleep aids and alcoholic beverages. While a “nightcap” and a sleep aid will definitely make you drowsy, the side-effects of mixing alcohol and sleep aids together can be dangerous and potentially deadly.[27]
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    Check your sleep aid against your existing medicinal regimen. Make sure that the sleep aid you choose is safe to take with existing medications you are taking. This is important for two reasons. First, it will ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk for a negative interaction between the two drugs. Secondly, any interference with your regular medication routine can negatively impact your ability to fall and stay asleep, as your pre-existing health problems can recur.[28]
    • When speaking with your doctor about starting a sleep aid, be sure to mention any medications you are currently taking, whether they are prescription or over-the-counter.
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    Ask your doctor about prescription sleep aids. If over-the-counter sleep aids don't work for you, talk to your doctor about prescription options to help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer.[29] Common options include:[30]
    • Benzodiazepines. These medicines slow down your nervous system, making it easier for you to fall asleep. However, they may have serious side effects.
    • Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics. These medications are more targeted than benzodiazepines and may have fewer side effects.
    • Melatonin receptor agonists. These work much the same as over-the-counter melatonin and help alter your circadian rhythms.
    • Orexin receptor antagonists. These block orexin, a brain chemical that may cause sleep difficulties.
    • Some of these medications may not be safely used by pregnant women. Talk with your doctor about any medical conditions you have before taking any prescription medications.


  • Wear clothes which are light and comfortable, preferably a cotton shirt and shorts. Never wear thick and silky clothes when sleeping, as they are not very breathable. Light clothes help your body "breathe" and feel good.
  • Have a glass of water handy in case of thirst. If you get thirsty, you won’t have to get out of bed if there is already a glass ready for you.

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Categories: Better Sleeping