How difficult can it be to sleep? Lay down, drift off and sleep soundly.

Not so fast, potential log sawers.

Alan Rudick, DO, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute in Green said that not everybody is getting their sleep wisely. Dr. Rudick identified 10 common mistakes people make when trying to doze off.

Instead of helping, these errors can hurt these people’s chances of getting a good night’s sleep.

1. Many people don’t get the right amount of sleep.
“It is recommended to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night,” Dr. Rudick said. “Too much or too little sleep may be detrimental to one’s health.”

2. Often people fail to maintain a sleep routine.
“Try to maintain a regular bedtime and wake up time,” said Dr. Rudick. “Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks may be helpful to both yourself and your physician.”

3. Drinking coffee or soda too late in the day is a common error.
“Avoid stimulants, such as caffeinated beverages or nicotine, in the afternoon or evening, as they make you more wakeful,” explained Dr. Rudick. “Tobacco smoke is also an irritant that can cause increased airway inflammation.”

4. Some people imbibe in a nightcap of alcohol to ease down from a hectic day.
“Avoid alcohol in the late afternoon and evening,” suggests Dr. Rudick. “It can disrupt your sleep through intense nightmares or make your sleep apnea worse.”

5. Sleepers frequently fail to provide for themselves a proper place to sleep.
“Maintain a conducive sleep environment,” said Dr. Rudick. “Your bedroom should be dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature (preferably on the cooler side, 68 to 70 degrees).

6. When not quite ready for bed, sleepers often engage in blue-light activities that are not sleep-related at bedtime.
“Avoid watching television, using your computer or cellphone or listening to the radio at bedtime,” said Dr. Rudick. “The bedroom should be for sleep only. Don’t let your pets sleep in bed with you. It is acceptable to have your pet sleep in the same bedroom if the pet is quiet and its presence is comforting to you.”

7. People sometimes try to tire themselves out before sleep.
“Avoid exercise in the evening four to five hours prior to bedtime,” said Dr. Rudick. “Exercise raises body temperature, which is not conducive to sleep. However, daily exercise is a good thing.”

8. When tired during the day, people try to catch too many cat naps.
“Avoid daytime naps if possible,” advised Dr. Rudick, “especially naps lasting longer than 20 minutes, or those that occur late in the day.”

9. Many people fail to monitor and temper their moods.
“Avoid conflicts or stress. Resolve concerns or worries prior to bedtime. Relaxation techniques such as biofeedback, yoga or meditation may be helpful.”

10. To avoid minor pain at night, people sometimes try to find bedtime relief in pills.
“Avoid narcotic analgesics in the evenings if possible. Narcotics can suppress respiration, causing hypoventilation and an increased amount of apneic episodes.”

(According to Cleveland Clinic, the Respiratory Institute of which Dr. Alan Rudick is a part offers a multidisciplinary team of clinicians who care for patients with conditions ranging from common breathing issues to complex lung disorders. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Cleveland Clinic’s pulmonology program, serving patients in 25 locations, as No. 3 in the nation.)

About The Author


Gary Brown has written articles and columns for About periodically since the publication’s inception, including pieces on books, recreational sports and historical subjects. A columnist and staff writer for The Repository, Brown enjoys such outdoor pursuits as golfing, sailing, skiing, biking and hiking. An avid student of the arts, he also uses those activities to inspire watercolor paintings.

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