Sleep Hygiene

What Is Sleep Hygiene?

Each person is different - what interferes and helps with their sleep also varies. Sleep hygiene can help. Sleep hygiene is a term describing behavioral and environmental practices and habits that promote healthy sleep. It includes what you should and should not do to help you sleep better.

Sleep hygiene methods help people with mild sleep problems. They are also used in combination with other therapies for long-term (chronic) insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Do you exercise regularly? Do you drink alcohol in the evening? Do you use your smartphone or laptop at bedtime? What you do and don’t do during the day, in the evening, and at bedtime can all affect your sleep. Consider the following sleep hygiene methods and how they might affect your sleep.

What About My Daily Habits?

Regular Exercise

Daily exercise or physical activity improves the quality of sleep. Most people should exercise for at least 20 minutes every day. Exercising close to bedtime doesn’t usually interfere with sleep.

Wake/Sleep Times

It is best to try to wake up and go to sleep at about the same time every day - even on days off. Most people need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Napping for short periods of time, less than 20 minutes, may be okay, but longer naps may interfere with sleep.

Caffeine, Nicotine, and Medicines

Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, they increase arousal and often interfere with sleep.

Caffeine-containing drinks, foods, and medicines can make it difficult to sleep, even if you have them several hours before bedtime. You may have to eliminate, or at least limit, the caffeine in your diet.

The nicotine in tobacco products disrupts the normal sleep-wake cycle (Have you thought about this as another reason to quit?). Limiting or stopping smoking could help with your sleep problems.

Alcohol, Substances, And Medicines

Alcohol or other substances may help you fall asleep, but they affect the quality of your sleep. Alcohol may also cause heartburn or reflux, which adds to difficulty sleeping.

Some medicines may also interfere with sleep. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about medicines you take, including over-the-counter products and supplements. If they are known to cause sleep problems, your doctor may suggest changes - for example, a different medicine or dosage.

Taking Care Of Your Health

Get treatment for health problems that interfere with sleep. Many health problems can interfere with sleep - some may be short-term, like coughs and colds.

Some may also be long-term and more serious. Pain, depression, and stress, for example, can all interfere with sleep. Sleep also impacts all three conditions and they affect each other. Lessening pain, treating depression, and dealing with stress, although not easy, can improve sleep.

What About Preparing to Sleep?

Eating And Drinking

Eating large amounts of food, late in the day can interfere with sleep. Try a healthy snack so you’re not hungry.

Avoid spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomato products, alcohol, etc. They may cause heartburn or reflux - which may worsen when lying down.

Make sure you’re not thirsty, but drinking a lot may cause you to wake up with a full bladder. Drinks with caffeine can make this even worse.

Bedtime Routine And Environment

Your bedtime routine and sleep environment can improve your ability to sleep. Try to go to sleep at about the same time every night. And, think about:

For More Information

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2022 ). Sleep Education. Retrieved 7.19.2022 from http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2011). Your Guide To Healthy Sleep. Retrieved 7.19.2022 from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/your-guide-healthy-sleep