“Sleep hygiene” is a set of healthy sleep habits that can help improve your sleep patterns. These practices have been found helpful for sleep, even for people affected by insomnia, shift work, or jet lag. Most of these tips relate to having a regular sleep schedule, which can take time. If you can consistently apply these habits to your daily life, your sleep should improve.
Reserve your bedroom for sleep only. Avoid reading, watching television, and using cell phones or other devices in bed. These activities can lead to your bed becoming associated with wakefulness rather than sleepiness.
Allow your mind to unwind before bed. Try to relax before bed. Thinking about stressful events can make it hard to fall asleep. Try writing things down to deal with at another time. Try reading, bathing, deep breathing or listening to soothing music. Learning relaxation techniques can be very helpful.
Be selective about your food and drink. Avoid stimulants like caffeine (coffee, or pop) in the evening. Avoid large meals and alcohol before bed. Although alcohol may help you fall asleep, it has been shown to worsen sleep quality. Keep the bedroom quiet, dark, and comfortable.
Include a little physical activity during the day. Start with a brisk walk around the block. Try to be active regularly, but avoid exercise right before bed.
Avoid daytime napping. Although tempting, napping during the day can lower your sleepiness in the evening, making it harder to fall asleep at night.
Get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, will help set your body’s internal clock and sleep schedule, which will make it easier to fall asleep at night.
Go to bed only when sleepy. People who have difficulty sleeping often go to bed too early and try to force themselves to sleep. This is usually not helpful, because your bed can become associated with wakefulness and frustration rather than sleep. Wait until you are sleepy to go to bed.
Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes after going to bed, get up and engage in a quiet, relaxing activity. Go back to bed when you feel sleepy.
Sleep Recommendations by Age
Visit the Canadian Sleep Society webpage for more information on sleep disorders, related conditions, treatment options, as well as when to see a healthcare provider.