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Achieving better rest: 6 tips from a sleep-medicine doctor

| Healthy You | Wellness

White man with shaved head and gray stubble wearing a blue T-shirt asleep in bed,

A reasonable night’s rest can be elusive. These techniques may help.

With everything going on in the world and our lives, it’s no surprise many of us have trouble sleeping.

“As a sleep physician, I get my fair share of questions about it,” says Don Berry, MD, a pulmonologist and sleep medicine expert at PeaceHealth in Bellingham, Washington.

“Chronic lack of sleep, or poor-quality sleep, can take a toll on your health,” he says. “In some cases, it may raise your risk of developing health issues such as obesity, heart conditions, diabetes or depression.” Feeling tired or less alert can also affect your decision-making ability and reaction time.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can try to improve your sleep, from establishing a soothing bedtime routine to understanding the importance of sleep hygiene.

Practical tips for a good night’s rest

If you’re not getting enough sleep or still feel tired after a reasonable night’s rest, Dr. Berry says taking these steps may help:

  1. Try to get up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time at night, even on weekends.
  2.  Don’t take cell phones or other electronic devices to bed with you.
  3.  Stop drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages at least 10 hours before your usual bedtime. Caffeine stays in the system longer than you might think. If you’re aiming for a 10 p.m. bedtime, stop your caffeine intake by noon.
  4. Exercise during the day. Walks and other moderate activity count. Try to avoid vigorous exercise right before bed.
  5. Prepare for sleep about an hour before bedtime. Do something that helps you intentionally relax and unwind.
  6. Finally, don’t obsess about the amount of sleep you’re getting. Anxiety about sleeplessness makes it worse. If you’re feeling well-rested, chances are you’re doing just fine.

If you’ve tried this advice and still can’t rest, a good next step is to talk to your primary care provider. They can look into whether you have a sleep-related health condition. If so, they may recommend a visit to a sleep doctor to gather more information about what's keeping you awake and make a plan to treat it.

portrait of Donald F. Berry MD

Donald F. Berry MD

Internal Medicine
Sleep Medicine - Internal Medicine

Donald F. Berry MD practices Internal Medicine in Bellingham