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Tips for Maintaining Good Sleep Habits

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This information was reviewed and approved by Sheila Tsai, MD (3/10/2021).

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.

  • Develop a 'going to bed' routine. This pre-bedtime routine should include relaxation and soothing activities.

  • Avoid taking long naps during the day. Napping in the late afternoon or early evening can disturb nighttime sleep. If you must nap, limit the nap to 15-20 minutes.

  • 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. They are best not taken close to bedtime. Drinks containing caffeine (coffee, tea and soda) have a long-lasting effect and should be avoided after 2 p.m.

  • 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. Strenuous exercise and mental activities can keep you awake. Exercise daily, but at least two hours before bed.

  • Avoid electronic screens that emit blue light (computer, iPad, iPhone, etc.). These are particularly bad at bed time blue light suppresses melatonin.

  • Get adequate exposure to bright light during the day. Go outside and enjoy the day.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. People who are overweight are more likely to develop a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Ongoing worries can lead to insomnia. Plan a few minutes each evening to write down your concerns and schedule of activities for the following day. This helps you "put an end" to the extended workday.

  • Activities in bed should be restricted to those that promote sleep or intimacy. Some people find reading or relaxing useful but generally reading or watching TV in bed is not recommended.

  • Eat a balanced diet with regular mealtimes. Avoid heavy meals at bedtime.

  • The bedroom environment may be overlooked as a cause of sleep disturbance. Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.

    • TV: Although many people feel they fall asleep quickly while watching television, the bright lights may disrupt sleep.

    • Lights: 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.

    • Quiet: The bedroom should also be kept quiet. If bright light or noise cannot be avoided, earplugs and eye masks may be helpful.

    • Temperature: The temperature in the bedroom should be cool and comfortable.

    • Clock: "Clock watchers," who obsess over seconds and minutes ticking away while they remain awake, should remove the clock from the bedroom.

  • Don't just lie there if you can't fall asleep. If still awake after 30 minutes, get out of bed and perform a soothing activity in soft lighting (reading, soft music, deep breathing).


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