After a night of tossing and turning, the next day is exhausting -- and seemingly endless. Sleep specialists say you can feel a bit better, and improve your odds of a good sleep the next night, with these steps:
* Don't hit the caffeine hard. In fact, cut off all caffeine after 2 p.m. "Caffeine may increase irritability, make falling asleep at night difficult or cause frequent waking during the night," says Dr. Martha Boulos, a neurologist at the Sleep Disorders Center at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, Va. "Then you can fall into a bad cycle and mess up your whole week of sleep."
* Be careful about driving. Lack of sleep affects reaction time and focusing ability. If you're really dragging, try to get a ride.
* Drink plenty of water. Dehydration makes you even sleepier. Just go easy in the evening to prevent nighttime urination.
* Eat small, healthy meals. That way, your body won't have to put much energy into digestion. Vegetables and fruits are great for keeping you well-hydrated.
* Be smart about naps. If you really need some shut-eye, limit naps to 20 or 30 minutes and don't snooze after 4 p.m. Alternatives to napping: get some exercise, listen to fast-paced music, splash cold water on your face or socialize with friends.
* Do something new. A change in routine -- starting a project, for example, or trying a different exercise class -- can help you stay alert.
* Stay cool. Turn down the heat, keep a window open and dress lightly. Warmer temperatures -- think hot baths -- make you drowsier.
* Rewind at night. Take a hot bath (see above), listen to soothing music or read. If sleep troubles continue for a week or two, talk to your primary care doctor.