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Sleep Hygiene Guidelines

  • It is best to avoid reading, watching TV, eating, exercise, listening to the radio, doing office or home work in bed or in the bedroom. These activities lead us to associate the bed with other activities other than sleep, and it often becomes difficult to fall asleep. Reserve the bed for sleep and intimacy only.
  • Both noise and light disrupt sleep. During the sleep period, minimize noise, such as all night TV or radio, light, and temperature extremes. Use earplugs, window blinds, an electric blanket or air conditioner as necessary.
  • Room temperature should not exceed 75 degrees or go below 54 degrees.
  • The steady hum of an AC or fan (“white noise”) may help by obscuring other noises. Sleep in another room if disturbed by your bed partner’s snoring or restlessness.
  • Try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m. This may reduce awakenings due to urination.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided near bedtime and upon night awakenings. If you do smoke, avoid nicotine 30 to 45 minutes before bed.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant and should be discontinued after lunch, certainly four to six hours before bedtime. Caffeine in coffee, soda, tea, chocolate and in some medications stays in your system up to 12 hours.
  • Alcohol is a depressant. Although it may help you fall asleep, it causes awakenings later in the night. As alcohol is digested, your body goes into withdrawal from the alcohol. This may cause nighttime awakenings and often nightmares.
  • A light snack may be sleep inducing, but a heavy meal too close to bedtime may interfere with sleep. Avoid massive amounts of protein (unless in a heavy exercise regimen and instructed by physician) and try eating carbohydrates or dairy products.
  • Do not exercise vigorously near bedtime. At least 30 minutes of moderate, late afternoon exercise resets your internal clock, enhances the quality and amount of your deep sleep stages, and may improve mood.
  • Keep a regulated sleep and rise time.
  • If alert in the middle of the night, do a peaceful activity in another room until sleepiness returns.
  • Don’t lie in bed longer than your night’s sleep.
  • Avoid afternoon naps.
  • Write nagging worries on a bedside notepad when they occur to help you forget them.
  • A regular sleep ritual (warm bath, dental hygiene, yoga, or religious observance) may prepare you for sleep.
  • Soaking your feet for 15 minutes in a hot water bath just prior to lights-out has recently been demonstrated to significantly improve restfulness.
  • Remember that insomnia is better treated by good sleep hygiene, not by long term use of sleeping pills.
  • Sleep is easily disturbed by untreated mood disorders, inadequate pain management, or by poor management of your personal affairs.