The first step in managing a sleep disorder is good sleep hygiene, or practicing good sleep habits. Here are some sleep hygiene tips to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Maintain a regular bedtime and arising time. This includes weekends and vacations.
- Avoid taking naps during the day. Napping in the late afternoon or early evening can disturb nighttime sleep.
- Alcohol can interfere with sleep. Avoid alcohol within three to four hours of bedtime. Alcohol can lead to repeated awakenings during the latter part of the night.
- Caffeine and nicotine can interfere with sleep. Drinks containing caffeine (coffee, tea, and soda) and nicotine have an arousing effect, causing a disruption in sleep.
- Many common medicines can cause excessive sleepiness or insomnia. Ask your doctor which medicines to avoid if you are having sleep problems.
- Avoid stimulating activities late in the evening. Exercise and mental activities can keep you awake.
- Ongoing concerns can lead to insomnia. Plan a few minutes each evening to write down your concerns. Schedule activities for the following day. This allows one to "put an end" to the extended workday.
- Activities in bed should be restricted to those that promote sleep. Some people find reading or relaxing useful.
- The bedroom environment may be overlooked as a cause of sleep disturbance. Although many people feel they fall asleep quickly while watching television, the bright lights may disrupt sleep. Other sources of light such as hallway fixtures or street lamps may have a similar effect. The level of acceptable bedroom light is different for each individual. While many people prefer the bedroom to be kept very dark, others, especially those fearful of the dark, may find comfort in a dim light. The bedroom should be kept quiet. If bright light or noise cannot be avoided, earplugs and eye masks may be helpful. The temperature in the bedroom should be comfortable. "Clock watchers" who become alarmed as the seconds and minutes tick away while they remain awake should remove the clock from the bedroom
Remember, good sleep hygiene is the first step in managing a sleep disorder.