Sleep Hygiene: Tips for Better Sleep
Getting proper sleep is vital to good health. Healthy lifestyle practices promote good sleep, and these healthy habits are known as “sleep hygiene.”
For those who have difficulty falling or staying asleep, it is also important to avoid associating the bed with being awake. The goal is to increase behaviors that enhance sleep and eliminate activities that interfere with sleep.
- Maintain a regular bedtime and waking time, even on weekends or vacation. Having a bedtime ritual helps keep you on schedule and relaxed.
- Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy. Never try to force yourself to go to sleep. The goal is to reduce the time you are lying awake in bed. If you are not sleepy, do something calming and relaxing (like easy reading) not stimulating the mind (like computer games).
- If you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, get up! Leave the bedroom until you feel sleepy. Sit quietly and read something relaxing. Do not turn on the bright lights because the light tells your brain that it is time to wake up. Avoid the computer or the cell phone.
- Try not to be anxious about sleep. Worrying in general will certainly interfere with your sleep. Set aside time to think about these issues during the day. If you find yourself thinking too much, write down your thoughts.
- Restrict activities in bed to those that promote sleep, such as light reading. Do not watch TV in bed. Do not eat in bed. Do not use your bed for anything other than sex or sleep. This helps train your brain that when you go to bed, it is time for sleep.
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
- Don’t go to bed hungry or too full. A light snack before bed is acceptable.
- Avoid taking naps during the day, especially in the late afternoon or evening.
- Try taking a hot bath 1-3 hours prior to going to bed. This will help to increase deep sleep. A temperature of 106 degrees F is recommended.
- Exercise regularly, but not within 4 hours of bedtime. Regular exercise will help your sleep and overall health. You may want to do light yoga or stretching close to bedtime.
- Refrain from smoking, alcohol or caffeine at least 6 hours before bed. Alcohol may seem like a good way to get to sleep, but in fact, it greatly interferes with your sleep. Caffeine stays in your system for a long time. It takes about 6 hours after drinking a caffeinated beverage for it to be eliminated from your body. If you are having trouble sleeping it is best to eliminate all caffeine from your diet.
A Good Night's Sleep
Most experts consider 7-9 hours of good sleep the norm, but some people require more and some people may require less.
The rule of thumb is waking well-rested — that dictates the amount of sleep you require on a nightly basis.