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There are many things that can make it difficult to fall asleep, including:
  • Stress

  • Caffeine (including coffee, dark tea, soda, energy drinks, etc.)

  • Nicotine (cigarettes and chewing tobacco)

  • Alcohol

  • A more complex sleep disorder

Getting good sleep is important in maintaining health. There are several things that you can do to promote good sleep and sleep hygiene and ultimately get better sleep.

What is sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is defined as behaviors that one can do to help promote good sleep using behavioral interventions.

Sleep hygiene tips:

Maintain a regular sleep routine
  • Go to bed at the same time. Wake up at the same time. Ideally, your schedule will remain the same (+/- 20 minutes) every night of the week.

Avoid daytime naps
  • Naps decrease the ‘Sleep Debt’ that is so necessary for easy sleep onset.

  • Each of us needs a certain amount of sleep per 24-hour period. We need that amount, and we don’t need more than that.

  • When we take naps, it decreases the amount of sleep that we need the next night – which may cause sleep fragmentation and difficulty initiating sleep, and may lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation.

Don’t stay in bed awake for more than 5-10 minutes.
  • If you find your mind racing, or worrying about not being able to sleep during the middle of the night, get out of bed, and sit in a chair in the dark. Do your mind racing in the chair until you are sleepy, then return to bed. No TV or internet during these periods! That will just stimulate you more than desired.

  • If this happens several times during the night, that is OK. Just maintain your regular wake time, and try to avoid naps.

Don’t watch TV, use the computer, or read in bed.
  • When you watch TV or read in bed, you associate the bed with wakefulness.

  • The bed is reserved for two things – sleep and intimacy

  • The blue light from the screen can actually adversely affect your circadian rhythm

Drink caffeinated drinks with caution
  • The effects of caffeine may last for several hours after ingestion. Caffeine can fragment sleep, and cause difficulty initiating sleep. If you drink caffeine, use it only before noon.

  • Remember that soda and tea contain caffeine as well.

Avoid inappropriate substances that interfere with sleep
  • Cigarettes, alcohol, and over-the-counter medications may cause fragmented sleep.

Clean fresh air
  • Crack a window to make sure you have plenty of fresh air

  • If you want to avoid a draft, use an air purifier that removes bacteria and odors from the room air.  

Exercise before 2 pm every day. Exercise promotes continuous sleep.
  • Avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime. Rigorous exercise circulates endorphins into the body which may cause difficulty initiating sleep.

Have a quiet, comfortable bedroom
  • Set your bedroom thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Generally, a little cooler is better than a little warmer.

  • Turn off the TV and other extraneous noise that may disrupt sleep. Background ‘white noise’ like a fan is OK.

  • If your pets awaken you, keep them outside the bedroom.

  • Your bedroom should be dark. Turn off bright lights.

  • Have a comfortable mattress.

  • If your bed partner snores, this could be fragmenting your sleep. Consider snoring remedies to help stop snoring.

If you are a ‘clock watcher’ at night, hide the clock.
Have a comfortable pre-bedtime routine
  • A warm bath, shower

  • Meditation, or quiet time

  • Find autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) (Sounds, Whispers and Triggers for Sleep) that work for you *you can search ASMR videos.

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