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Studies have shown cognitive and behavioral therapy has a much better track record of success than drug therapy since it treats the underlying causes. Some cognitive and behavioral tips to improving sleep hygiene include:
> Stick to a specific schedule of when you go to sleep and wake up, even on holidays and weekends.
> Only use the bed for sleep and sex, not to watch television, read or snack.
> If you’re not able to sleep after 20 minutes, do something relaxing until you are sleepy again to avoid anxiety and “clock-watching” behavior.
> To make the bedroom a restful place, remove the television, dim the lights and turn off any background noise.
> Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
> Avoid alcohol. While it may make you initially sleepy, it will disrupt sleep.
> While physical exercise often helps sleep, do not exercise within two hours of bedtime.
> If you’re unable to sleep at night, do not take naps during the day; this perpetuates an irregular circadian rhythm cycle.
> Quit smoking. Smokers will wake after only a few hours of sleep because of symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
> Keep a sleep log to discover what is triggering your insomnia to help your doctor plan the best therapy for you.
> Keep a “worry book” to write down anxieties or worries that may be keeping you up at night and vow to do something about them the next day.