Healthy Sleep Habits

The most common cause of insomnia is a change in your daily routine.  For instance, traveling, change in work hours, disruption of other behaviors (i.e. eating, exercise), and relationship conflicts can all impact our ability to get good sleep.  Paying attention to healthy sleep habits, also known as “sleep hygiene,” is the most important thing you can do to maintain good sleep.  Here are some do’s and don’ts that may help you achieve a good night sleep:

DO:

  • Go to bed at the same time each day.
  • Get up at the same time each day.  Even on the weekends or days off, try to keep a consistent sleep/wake routine and get up at roughly the same time each day.
  • Get regular exercise as this improves restful sleep.
  • Eat right.  A healthy balance diet will help you sleep well, but timing is important as you do not want to go to bed hungry or too full.
  • Keep the temperature in your room comfortable, keep your room quiet and keep your room dark.
  • Only use your bed for sleep and sex, do not do other activities in your bed such as reading, watching TV or playing on your phone as this confuses your body so that it does not associate bed with sleep.
  • Take medications as directed as some medications may impact your ability to fall asleep.
  • Use relaxation exercises just before going to sleep.
    • muscle relaxation, imagery, warm bath, deep breathing, massage, etc

DON’T:

  • Exercise within four hours of going to bed.
  • Engage in stimulating activity just before bed, such as watching an exciting show, having an important conversation or playing video games.
  • Have caffeine in the evening (coffee, many teas, soda, chocolate).
  • Use alcohol to help you sleep.
  • Take daytime naps.
  • Command yourself to go to sleep, this only makes your mind and body more alert.  If you lie in bed awake for more than 20-30 minutes, get up, go to a different room (or different part of the bedroom) and participate in a quiet activity and then return to bed when you feel tired.
  • Watch the clock as this can wake you up and reinforces negative thoughts such as “oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to sleep.”

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