The term "sleep hygiene" refers to a variety of tried and true coping strategies that can help us have a good night's sleep and full daytime alertness. It's an important part of each person's daily therapy.
1. Maintain a regular bed time and wake time schedule including weekends. By sticking to a regular schedule, we reinforce the circadian clock in our brain that regulates our sleep-wake cycle.
2. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading a book, listening to soothing music, or practicing relaxation therapy. This helps separate your sleep time from the stress of your day.
3. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
4. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and intimacy. Take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment.
6. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime. Eating or drinking too much may make you less comfortable when settling down for bed. Some people, though, find milk or herbal, non-caffeinated teas to be soothing and a helpful part of a bedtime routine.
7. Exercise regularly. It is best to complete your workout a few hours before bedtime. Regular exercise contributes to sounder sleep. However, exercising right before going to bed makes us more alert because our body temperature rises during exercise. A cooler body temperature is associated with sleep onset.
8. Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime. The stimulant in caffeine remains in the body on average from 3 to 5 hours, but can affect some people up to 12 hours later.
9. Avoid nicotine. Used close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep. Nicotine is also a stimulant.
10. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. Although many people think of alcohol as a sedative, it actually disrupts sleep, because as the body metabolizes the alcohol it causes nighttime awakenings.