Sleep Hygiene

Improve well-being with sound sleep hygiene

People with insomnia can improve their well-being by establishing new sleep habits (referred to as sleep hygiene). Here are some tips:

1. Fix a bedtime and an awakening time. Our body appreciates being able to fall asleep at a certain time. Even if you are retired or not working, this is an essential component of good sleeping habits.

2. Avoid napping during the day. Too much napping during the day impairs your ability to sleep at night will be affected. An afternoon nap, or siesta, in hot countries is helpful, and power naps have been shown to reduce stress and increase productivity. However, napping should be limited to 30-45 minutes, so you can sleep well at night.

3. Avoid alcohol. Many people believe that alcohol helps them sleep. While alcohol has an immediate sleep-inducing effect, a few hours later as the alcohol levels in your blood start to fall, sleep is disrupted.

4. Avoid caffeine four to six hours before bed time. This includes caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and many sodas, as well as chocolate. Sometimes we forget which foods have caffeine.

5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods. These can arouse you and affect your ability to stay asleep.

6. Exercise regularly.  Regular exercise, particularly in the afternoons, can help deepen sleep. Strenuous exercise within two hours before bedtime, however, can decrease your ability to fall asleep.

7. Make your bed comfortable. Uncomfortable beds can prevent good sleep.

8. Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well ventilated. If your bedroom is too cold or too hot, it can disturb your sleep. A cool (but not cold) bedroom and a warm blanket are often the most conducive to sleep.

9. Block out distracting noise, and eliminate as much light as possible. Avoid falling asleep with the TV on. Watching television before bedtime is a bad idea, because the overall blue light emitted by TVs has been shown to disturb sleep. I generally recommend that a television not be in the bedroom. At the appropriate bedtime, the TV should be turned off and one should go to bed.

10. Reserve the bed for sleep. Don’t use the bed as an office, workroom, or recreation room. Let your body “know” that the bed is associated with sleeping.


Getting ready for bed

1. Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation before going to bed.

2.  Don’t take your worries to bed. Some people find it useful to assign a “worry period” during the evening or late afternoon to deal with these issues. Putting your thoughts on paper by journaling is a good way to free up the mind.

3. Get into your favorite sleeping position. If you don’t fall asleep within 15-30 minutes, get up, go into another room, and read until sleepy.

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