A good night’s sleep can cost a fortune. Sleep disorder diagnosis and sleep hygiene cost $23.7 billion in 2007, according to market research publisher, Marketdata Enterprises. That means high sales of sleeping pills, premium mattresses, high tech pillows, sleep masks, and more—and still Americans aren't getting enough sleep.
What if you could skip the pills, fancy pillows, and expensive mattresses and fall asleep by cutting out some unhealthy nighttime habits? Try these tips for getting some shut-eye before you shell out:
• Get off the couch. Regular exercise promotes healthy sleep—and weight loss, stress reduction, blood sugar management, and the list goes on. But allow at least 4 hours between exercise and going to bed as it will rev up your metabolism, making falling asleep harder.
• Step away from the computer, and the TV. It’s not easy to turn off the tech, but you need to be calm to get a good night’s sleep. Late-night TV watching and surfing the web will stimulate you.
• Pick a bed time (and a wake up time) and stick to it. Going to sleep at different times every night—10:00 p.m. one night and 1:00 a.m. the next—disrupts optimal sleep. Try to go to sleep at around the same time every night, even on the weekends. And wake up around the same time every day (with not more than an hour’s difference on the weekends).
• Have a nap, but not after 3 p.m. Evening naps will make it harder for you to get to sleep at night.
• Keep your cool. Too hot, or too noisy, not dark enough, an uncomfortable bed, or not the right covers or pillow—all these can prevent a good night’s sleep. Solve these problems if you have them.
• Skip alcohol or caffeine, or have them at least 3 hours before bedtime. Caffeine will stimulate you, and while alcohol can help you fall asleep, it may cause you to wake up later and stop you from getting back to sleep or having a good night’s sleep.
• Relax, and let go of stress. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends beginning rituals that help you relax each night before bed such as a warm bath, light snack, or a few minutes of reading. And try to get rid of or deal with things that make you worry. In a recent Consumer Reports National Research Center survey, stress was a top cause of sleeplessness.
Take our quiz to find out how your sleep habits compare with our survey respondents’. And for more on insomnia treatments , see our Treatment Ratings (subscribers only) and our free Best Buy Drugs report for recommendations and low-cost drug options.