Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene

Aiding Sleep
  • Daily exercise in most cases deepens sleep over the long run, but occasional one-shot exercise does not usually improve sleep that night.
  • Wind down with a relaxing before-bed routine and lie down only when sleepy.
  • When you have trouble falling asleep, after about 15-20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing before returning to bed. Try not to check the clock.
  • When going to bed, focus on your breathing and relaxing your body. For some people, using imagery techniques at this time may also be helpful as a way to give oneself something to focus on other than worries or stressful thoughts.
  • Go to bed and wake up at about the same time to strengthen circadian cycling and promote regular sleep onset.
  • If you suffer from chronic insomnia, exposing yourself to bright outdoor quality light, especially first thing in the morning, will help to reset your sleep-wake cycle.
  • A 12 to 20 minute power nap may restore alertness. (See below for the problems with longer naps).
Things to Avoid
  • If you study on your bed and fight to stay awake, you are training your body to not sleep there. Use your bed only for sleeping and sex.
  • Exercise within approximately two hours of bedtime usually makes it harder to transition into sleep.
  • Afternoon or evening naps of an hour or more will put you in deep sleep which makes waking difficult. These longer naps later in the day can make it harder to get to sleep that night.
  • Caffeine consumption in the evening can delay sleep onset, even among those who don't seem to feel it's effect.
  • Alcohol helps tense people fall asleep, but it suppresses dream sleep and can shorten sleep time, thereby having a negative effect on the quality of sleep.
  • Frequent use of sleeping pills disrupts normal sleeping patterns, but an occasional sleeping pill can be helpful.
  • Heavy meals close to bedtime delay sleep onset, while light bedtime snacks, especially warm milk, help many students fall asleep.
  • Limit fluid intake near bedtime to decrease middle of the night trips to the bathroom.
  • An excessively warm room disturbs sleep, but there is no evidence an excessively cold room helps.