Waking at Night
If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t panic. Connolly says avoid looking at the clock and try to go back for a second sleep. If you can’t fall back asleep, do something relaxing, like reading a book or listening to music. Stay away from the computer and the TV — both produce too much artificial light and can overstimulate your brain.
Improving Sleep Hygiene
Many people have bad sleep habits that make getting to sleep and staying asleep difficult. Connolly tells his patients to practice good sleep hygiene. “Treat yourself like a 3-year-old,” he says. “Set a bedtime schedule and stick to it. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine or eat heavily close to bedtime. Exercise early in the day. Turn off the computer when the sun goes down to avoid the strong artificial light. Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and free of electronic noise and light.”
Paying Back Sleep Debt
“Every time you sacrifice on sleep, you add to your sleep debt," says Connolly. "Make it up right away.” So, if you lose 2 hours of sleep on Sunday night, try to get 2 extra hours on Monday night. Just like any debt, a sleep debt can be difficult to pay back if you allow it to accumulate. Get out of debt, and stay out of debt – your health depends on it.