Get better sleep

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A good night's sleep can make the whole world look better. Rest prepares your mind and body to deal with life's everyday challenges. It's also important for your overall health.

Insomnia can be frustrating and can leave you feeling anxious, depressed, and fatigued.

Can't sleep?

Photo of a woman in bedAlmost everyone has trouble sleeping sometimes. This is not usually a problem unless it causes extreme tiredness.

Try the following tips and tricks for the next 3 to 4 weeks, and see if your sleep improves:

During the day

  • Go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day, even on weekends.
  • If you must nap during the day, nap at least 4 hours before your bedtime and for no longer than 20 minutes.
  • Only use your bedroom for sleep and sex, not for working, watching TV, or other activities.
  • Drink most of your fluids earlier in the day to avoid waking up to go to the bathroom during the night.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and, if possible, medicines that can keep you awake.
  • Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes at least 3 times a week. Be sure to exercise at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.

At bedtime

  • If you cannot fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes of going to bed, do something relaxing until you feel tired. Read a book, listen to music or guided imagery, or enjoy a warm bath.
  • Avoid using your computer or watching TV.
  • Make sure your bed, bedding, and night clothes are comfortable — and your room is quiet and dark.
  • Skip bedtime snacks or have only a light snack 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Plan relaxing evenings. Try to avoid stress before bedtime.

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When to get help

If you have tried the recommendations above for 3 to 4 weeks, but you are still having a hard time sleeping, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Herbal remedies

Herbal medicines and supplements such as melatonin and valerian are sold over-the-counter.

At this time, not enough is known about whether these medicines are safe or actually work for treating insomnia. Talk to your doctor about taking melatonin, valerian, or any other herbal medicine.

Reviewed by: Andrew Bertagnolli, PhD, November 2015
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

©2015 Kaiser Permanente