You asked us

Winter 2014

What are some tips for a good night's sleep?

A good night’s sleep helps protect our overall health and recharges us so we can better manage the stress of everyday life. However, for many people, restful sleep can be a challenge. At some point in life, approximately 40 per cent of the population experiences issues with getting to sleep, staying asleep or feeling well-rested.

To help set yourself up for a successful slumber, LHSC’s Sleep and Apnea Assessment Unit suggests the following tips:


  • Get into a regular and relaxing routine before bed. This will prepare and condition your body to sleep.
  • Get up each day at a consistent time. Sleeping in and napping can have a negative impact on your sleep schedule.
  • Make your bedroom as relaxing as possible – ensure your bed is comfortable, limit exposure to light and ensure the temperature is not too hot or too cold.
  • Get physical: Exercising vigorously early in the day or late in the afternoon can help promote a relaxing sleep. Gentle exercise like yoga, can be done before bed to help relax the body.
  • Get exposure to natural light during the daytime to help maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Get out of bed if you are having a hard time falling asleep. If you are kept awake by worrying thoughts, take time to write them down and commit to addressing them the next day. Engage in an activity that limits mental activity (e.g. a word search), in a dimly lit room to help your brain wind down.


  • Consume or use stimulants, such as caffeine, which can have effects that last up to 48 hours. To get a better sleep, avoid caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
  • Have a nightcap. While alcohol can speed the onset of sleep, it also disrupts sleep as your body attempts to metabolize the alcohol.
  • Nap during the day as it can disturb sleep patterns.
  • Eat right before you sleep, especially large meals and spicy food. Chocolate, which contains caffeine, should also be avoided.
  • Use your bed for mentally stimulating activities like watching TV, listening to music or reading.
  • Use screens (e.g. TV, computer, tablets, phones, etc.) near bedtime. These devices emit a blue wavelength of light, which can disturb your body’s sleep-wake cycle.


    When to seek help:

    There are over 50 known sleep disorders. Adults (age 18+) may receive referral to the LHSC Sleep and Apnea Assessment Unit through primary care providers or family physicians. You may wish to seek help if you experience:


  • Excessive daytime sleepiness – falling asleep at inappropriate times or dangerous times during the day (e.g., driving)
  • Disturbed sleep (often noticed by a partner, including loud snoring, adult sleep walking,  etc.)
  • A restlessness in your legs that occurs in the evening hours
  • Persistent Difficulty falling asleep or  inability to stay asleep through the night and it’s affecting your ability to function during the daytime
  • Physically acting out dreams, which can be a symptom of a sleep behavior disorder
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety due to lack of sleep.


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