Men, Women, and Sleep

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a cool sleeping environment can also help get you through night sweats and hot flashes during sleep.

Good habits = good sleep.

Going to bed at about the same time each day, including weekends, helps you feel sleepier at bedtime and fall asleep quicker. Keep the routine going with relaxing rituals—perhaps yoga, deep breathing, or keeping a worry log—to transition body and mind.

Bad habits = bad sleep.

Alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep you awake. Avoid nicotine (even e-cigarettes have it) and caffeine (including chocolate) before bed. Your own tolerance will tell you how early in the day is too close to bed for these stimulants.

Closing eyes and ears.

Other well-known stimulants: light and noise. Even a little bit of light can be a problem, so try blackout curtains; dim or turn your clock away from direct view; and don’t use tablets or smartphones in bed. Once you’ve eliminated noise as much as possible, you can try masking it. White-noise machines offer several choices of soft, soothing sounds.

Get comfortable.

Your bedroom environment should be your sanctuary, whether you’re one of the 65% of women who report sleeping with a significant other or the 14% who report sleeping with a pet. Once you’re in bed, get comfortable in whatever way feels best to you.

One study examining the sleep of women across the lifespan assessed sleeping positions during the night and found that the majority of women (48%) ages 20 to 44 slept in the supine position (lying on the back facing up), followed by 21% sleeping on their left side, 20% sleeping on their right side, and 11% sleeping in the prone position (on the stomach). One exception is during pregnancy – doctors recommend women in later stages of pregnancy sleep on their side instead of on their backs as it promotes better blood flow.

It’s worth experimenting until you find the right combination of bedroom environment and nighttime habits that best helps you sleep. Imagine how much better you’ll feel with a full night’s rest—every night!