Best Practices for Good Sleep Hygiene

In this article, we explore some great tips to help you sleep better:

  • Sleep as much as you need to feel refreshed and healthy the following day, but not more. Excessively long times in bed seems to be related to shallow sleep.
  • Try to get up at about the same time EVERY morning, regardless of when you retired the night before. This helps establish a sleep/wake rhythm of cycle and will eventually help you feel sleepy at the same time each night.
  • Exercise the same amount each day, preferably in the late afternoon or early evening. Occasional exercise does not necessarily improve sleep the following night. Too much activity late in the evening can stimulate your body and make it difficult to relax for sleep.
  • Make sure the bedroom is quiet and dark. Occasional loud noises, like aircraft fly-over, disturb sleep even in people who are not awakened by noises and cannot remember them in the morning.
  • Keep the temperature comfortable — neither too warm or cold. 65 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended.
  • Don’t go to bed until you feel sleepy.
  • A light snack may help sleep. A heavy meal will not.
  • An occasional sleeping pill may help, but chronic use is ineffective.
  • Avoid napping. Usually naps do more harm than good; you will be less sleepy when you want to sleep.
  • Caffeine in the evening disturbs sleep, even in those who feel it does not.
  • Alcohol helps people fall asleep more easily, but that sleep is fragmented.
  • Don’t smoke. Chronic tobacco use disturbs sleep.
  • Don’t rehash today’s problems or worry about tomorrow’s schedule.
  • If you can’t sleep, go to another room, and do something relaxing. Reading or a light snack may help.
  • Don’t count the hours you sleep; whenever you wake up reasonably refreshed, you have had enough sleep. Also, you may be sleeping more than you think. Sleep laboratory studies have shown that we all tend to underestimate the amount of time we sleep between awakenings.
  • Engage in quiet activities to ‘wind down’ at the end of your day. Reading, watching T.V., listening to music, meditation, prayer, or a pleasant bath or shower can help ease you into a relaxed state for sleep.
  • Don’t lie in bed when you are not sleepy. If you do not fall asleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed and read, watch television or listen to music. Go back to bed only when you feel sleepy. If you do not fall asleep within 15 minutes this time, do the same thing again. Repeat this procedure until you fall asleep promptly. This can be a pretty tough regime for a few nights, but it can break the mental association of bed with lying awake and worrying rather than falling asleep quickly.
  • Stress is the most common cause of insomnia. If you feel that you are pushing yourself too hard, look into ways you can reduce and cope with the stress in your life.
  • If you don’t sleep for a long period of time, if you still feel tired after trying these suggestions, or if you feel that emotional problems are making it impossible for you to sleep, you may want to consult a counsellor, doctor or other helping professional for assistance in sorting things out.

Literature concerning sleep practices that is distributed by MRC Healthcare, Inc. is offered for information purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for the advice of a healthcare provider.