What is sleep hygiene?

Dr. Peter Bongiorno, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Sleep hygiene includes getting to bed on time, dimming the lights, and shutting down bright screens (cell phones, tablets, computers, etc.). Sometimes, certain foods like oatmeal or pumpkin seed powder can help. Finally, many people need to look more into their emotions to help them process the thoughts that might be running through their heads and keeping them awake. I have excellent results in my clinic helping people sleep without drugs by working on these issues and using the right supplements.
Sleep Hygiene is a term used to describe good overall sleep habits. Good sleep hygiene involves creating an environment that will offer you the best opportunity for a good night’s sleep, and work with your body’s natural desire and the need for sleep. Bad habits and influences that can contribute to poor quality sleep hygiene can fall into two main categories:
  • External influences—including the sleep environment (light, noise, temperature, food, bed and pillow) sleep scheduling, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine.
  • Internal influences—including emotional unrest, depression, anxiety, and marital discord.
You want to try and avoid these issues while creating a healthy sleeping environment.
Craig L. Schwimmer, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Sleep Hygiene simply refers to a collection of habits and behaviors that tend to improve one's sleep quality and quantity. Examples include keeping regular bed and wake times, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, and avoiding the use of computer and TV screens before going to sleep.

A routine that helps get your body ready for sleep is sometimes called proper sleep hygiene. In general, avoiding stimulants and engaging in relaxing behaviors before bedtime promotes better sleep. Proper sleep hygiene is important beyond just helping you feel refreshed the next day: poor sleep has been linked to cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, in addition to other serious health problems.

The following can help you establish better sleep hygiene:

  • Get to bed and wake up at consistent times, even on the weekend.
  • Treat your bedroom as a sanctuary only used for sleep and sexual activity (if applicable).
  • Make sure the temperature of the bedroom is comfortable enough to promote sleep.
  • Darken the room with blackout curtains to help promote longer sleep in the brightness of the early morning.
  • Turn off electronics (phone, computer, television) and quit other stimulating activities several hours before bedtime.
  • Exercise daily in the early part of the day.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Avoid smoking and the stimulant effects of nicotine.
  • If you are having trouble sleeping, get up out of bed and try a relaxing activity.
  • Try strategies for coping with stress such as a warm bath or meditation.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
We talk about personal hygiene for our teeth or job interviews, but most people don't talk about sleep hygiene—that is, creating the perfect sleep environment. Much in the way you'd put candles on the table for a romantic dinner or Luther Vandross on the stereo for a romantic night, you also need to set the mood for sleeping. The perfect environment for sleep:
  1. A cool, dark room: The temperature and darkness are signals to the pineal gland to kick up melatonin production and knock you out.
  2. No laptops, no TV: Ideally, the bed is used for two things and two things only. If you have any other type of stimulus, like work or a TV, you're not sending your body the right message that it's time for sleep. Need more incentive to kick Leno to the living room? People who don't have a TV in the bedroom have 50 percent more sex than those who do.
  3. Add white noise. Use a fan for background noise, or one of those machines that lets you pick sounds, from the rain forest to the ocean. This drowns out the couple fighting next door and the drag races outside so your subconscious stays pristine as you count sheep.
  4. Dress appropriately. The best clothing should be nonrestricting and nonallergenic (both the fabric and how it's washed). Your body is better at keeping itself hot than keeping itself cool, so you'll make it easier on yourself the fewer and looser clothes you wear.
  5. Establish a standard wake-up time, including on weekends. This helps reset your circadian rhythm and trains you to stay on schedule if your rhythm happens to wander, as during traveling.
  6. Get the best mattress. I believe there are four things in life you should overpay for. The first three: pillows, mattresses, and their coverings. The fourth thing? A good kitchen knife (not to be used in the bed).
You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

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You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

From the Authors of the #1 Bestselling YOU: On A Diet and YOU: On a WalkWouldn't you like to know how to prevent your body from aging badly? Most of us believe that at age 40 or so, we begin the slow...
Sleep hygiene refers to a list of recommended behaviors and environmental conditions that can improve the quality of your sleep. Research indicates that 70% to 80% of people with sleep disorders achieve some benefits when practicing good sleep hygiene.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Both the occasional restless sleeper and those with chronic sleep problems can benefit from good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene addresses the environmental and behavioral factors that are counterproductive to sleep.

Keeping a sleep diary can help you get a handle on your sleep pattern that can uncover unhealthy patterns and practices.

This content originally appeared on
Shelby A. Terstriep, MD
Everyone loses sleep every once in a while. But when lack of sleep or interrupted sleep becomes the norm, it’s time to do something about it. Insomnia affects 30 to 50 percent of all people. Many patients, whether they know it or not, suffer from disordered sleeping caused by a multitude of factors, including:
  • Too much caffeine intake
  • Frequent bathroom breaks
  • Hot flashes
  • Too many distractions, such as the TV, computer and other devices
  • Medications, including alcohol
  • Undiagnosed sleep apnea
  • Stress
Simply, easy techniques and habits will help patients overcome mild to moderate sleep disorders – without medication. These include:
  • Turning off the TV, cell phone and computer off one hour before going to bed
  • Making a list of the next day’s to dos before going to bed
  • Keeping a daily routine, such as getting up at the same time every day and going to bed at the same time every night
  • Avoiding looking at the clock
If you can’t fall asleep go into another room. The idea is that you don’t equate your bedroom with bad sleep.
Sleep hygiene constitutes the things you can do on your own to improve your quality of sleep. This includes going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Equally as important is not having any distractions in the bedroom such as lights on, TVs in the bedroom or lighted clocks. Activities in the bedroom should be limited to sleep and sex. And last, if you find that you can not sleep after 30 minutes, you should get up and do something active for 30 minutes before attempting sleep again.
Sleep hygiene -- your diet, activity levels, other lifestyle habits and environment -- all affect how well you sleep. There are many sleep hygiene steps you can take on your own to promote sound sleep. These include:
  • Reduce caffeine intake and avoid it completely in the evening.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Eliminate alcohol within four to six hours of bedtime; although alcohol initially makes you drowsy, it disrupts sleep later in the night.
  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime that may cause heartburn (a light snack, however, may promote sound sleep).
  • Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. Don't watch TV, eat, pay bills or do other such tasks in bed.
  • Avoid the regular use of sleeping pills.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising in the early evening, at least three hours before bed, may improve sleep.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment conducive to sleep.
  • Drink less fluid before sleep.
  • Initiate a relaxing routine, like soaking in a hot tub before bedtime.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.