What is sleep hygiene?

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.
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 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.

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.

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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.