How to Have Good Sleep Hygiene

Three Parts:Maintaining Consistent Sleeping PatternsCreating an Optimal Sleeping EnvironmentMaking Healthy Choices

Sleep hygiene is the practice of creating an environment that allows you to sleep restfully, adequately, and comfortably so you feel energetic, alert, and mentally and emotionally balanced every day. There are several factors you must take into consideration when establishing good and healthy sleep hygiene; such as maintaining consistent sleeping patterns, creating an optimal sleeping environment, eating properly, and exercising on a regular basis. Developing good sleep hygiene can be accomplished in a few simple steps.[1]

Part 1
Maintaining Consistent Sleeping Patterns

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    Keep a sleep schedule. When you maintain a consistent sleeping schedule, your body will adapt its own natural rhythm that allows you to feel more refreshed and energetic on a daily basis. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends, to develop your sleep-wake cycle. In addition to feeling more energetic, you’ll be less prone to bouts of insomnia if your body consistently expects and receives sleep at a certain time.[2]
    • While setting your internal clock, it’s especially important that you wake up at the same time every day, even if you didn’t sleep well the night before.
    • Don’t deviate more than 20 minutes from your regularly-scheduled time, and not at all, if possible.
    • If you need the assistance of an alarm clock to wake you up each morning, adjust your bedtime to go to sleep earlier.
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    Develop a bedtime routine. Dedicate the hour before you go to bed to pre-bedtime habits that help you unwind. Simply engaging in habitual activities will soothe you and let your body know that it’s time to get ready for bed. Because you’ll do them every night, these activities won’t require planning or much thought, allowing you to physically and mentally prepare for sleep.
    • Take a warm bath.
    • Drink a cup of herbal tea with lemon.
    • Work crossword puzzles.
    • Read a book.
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    Stay away from electronics before bed. Computers, telephones, tablets, and televisions are all stimulating and should be avoided for at least one hour before bed. Even if you dim your screen to remove the brightness or the blue hue, electronic devices will prevent your brain from winding down fully, and will likely prevent you from falling asleep at your set time.[3]
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    Get up if you can’t sleep. If you find yourself lying in bed unable to sleep because your mind is racing, get up. Allow yourself 10 minutes in bed before switch locations. When you do get up, don’t turn on the television or look at your phone. Instead, find a chair in the dark and sit quietly, allowing your mind to race. Get the thoughts out and over with, then go back to bed. Repeat this as often as necessary.[4]
    • No matter how many times you get up in the night, maintain your consistent wake-up time.
    • Keep a notebook and pen handy. If you find that your mind doesn’t stop racing after 15 minutes, make a list in your notebook of what you’re thinking about, such as everything that you need to do tomorrow, or points you want to make in the conversation with your boss. Get the ideas out and on paper so that you don’t have to worry about them anymore.
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    Nap early and quickly. If you need to recharge during the day with a nap, take your nap earlier in the day. Afternoon naps can contribute to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Also, keep your nap short, under half an hour - any longer and you will disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.[5]

Part 2
Creating an Optimal Sleeping Environment

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    Use your bed for sleeping. Your bed is for sleeping, although you might have a tendency to do a host of other things while trying to fall asleep. If you feel like reading, listening to music, watching television, or surfing the internet from your phone, move to another location in your room or in the house. Using your bed for sleeping and no other activities signals your body and brain that when you’re in bed, it’s time to get to sleep and should minimize the time you lay awake in bed.[6]
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    Make sure that your bed and pillows are comfortable. What pillows and mattress you find the most comfortable is subjective and unique to you. Some people prefer firm mattresses, others prefer soft. Some prefer pillow top and others prefer memory foam. Similarly, you might like a down-filled pillow more than a synthetic filling. Through trial and error you will determine what combination of pillow and mattress is the most comfortable for you.[7]
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    Eliminate distractions. For optimal sleep, make sure that your room is dark, free of distracting sounds, and is a comfortable temperature. Because you have blankets on your bed, err on the side of cooler rather than warmer when setting your thermostat. Making your room a comfortable, quiet, distraction-free environment will help ensure the best sleep possible.[8]
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    Use a “white noise” sound machine. Even when you’re sleeping, your brain still notices every sound in the room, which can be disruptive to your overall quality of sleep by causing you to turn over, stir, or even wake up. A white noise sound machine provides a steady, ambient sound that is a balance between background and foreground noises, and effectively minimizes the impact of room sounds.[9]
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    Block out light. Use an eye mask or light-blocking curtains to block out any light, however dim, in your room. Your brain will register any light in a room, even a simple nightlight or streetlamp outside, which will disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and sleep patterns and could prevent you from completing a full sleep cycle.[10]
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    Keep your room at the right temperature. To encourage sleep, our body temperatures decrease. If we are too warm or cold, our sleep may be disrupted by restlessness or even prevented altogether. You can help facilitate healthy sleep by setting your thermostat for somewhere between 60 and 75 degrees, which is the best temperature range to ensure that you’re neither too hot nor too cold. What you set your thermostat at within that range depends entirely on what’s most comfortable for you.[11]

Part 3
Making Healthy Choices

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    Avoid caffeinated products before bed. Don’t drink caffeinated products, such as coffee, tea, and soda, less than 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant that impacts your heart, breathing, alertness, and brain activity. Ingesting caffeine close to bedtime may prevent you from going to sleep and disrupt your sleep cycle.[12]
    • If you’re thirsty before bed, consider drinking a cup of warm herbal tea with lemon or lukewarm water.
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    Limit alcohol consumption. Initially alcohol acts as a depressant, and may help you relax and even fall asleep. As your body metabolizes the alcohol, though, it transforms into a stimulant. Generally, you should limit your alcohol consumption and stop drinking any alcohol at least three hours before bedtime. This three-hour window gives your body time to metabolize the alcohol and for any stimulant properties to wear off.[13]
    • Drinking less than three hours before bedtime can lead to multiple awakenings throughout the night and degrade your overall quality of sleep.
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    Eat smaller meals before bed. It takes about three hours for your stomach to process what you eat and then empty itself. Your body relies on gravity to help it digest food, meaning that you need to be sitting upright or standing after you eat. Laying down during digestion hinders the process and can lead to some uncomfortable side effects, the most common being acid reflux.[14]
    • If you find that you need a snack between dinner and bedtime, consider eating a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.
    • You might also swap a snack for a 16 oz. glass of water.
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    Avoid chemicals that interfere with sleep. Stay away from chemicals that will keep you stimulate you in any way, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Nicotine and caffeine both elevate your heart rate, making you more awake. Caffeine is also a mental stimulant and is found in many drinks and foods. Alcohol, which is initially a depressant, becomes a stimulant as your body processes the chemicals, and may lead to several wake-ups.
    • Caffeine can hide in a variety of places, such as soda pops, chocolate candies, coffee, and even some pain relievers like Excedrin.
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    Exercise regularly. Exercise is not only essential for overall health, but is a natural stimulant. Daily exercise for 30-60 minutes per day will help your body secrete cortisol, which is a natural hormone that helps your body stay alert during the day. Fortunately, exercise during the day will help you sleep better at night, so just make sure that you do it earlier in the day.[15]
    • Exercise no less than 3 hours before you go to bed. This will prevent your body from becoming stimulated and keeping you awake when you are trying to sleep
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    Expose yourself to sunlight on a daily basis. Exposure to natural light will help regulate your body's production of melatonin at night. Melatonin is a natural hormone your body secretes while you sleep that not only regulates your sleep patterns, but your health and other important biological functions of your body.[16]
    • Spend time outdoors throughout the day by exercising or taking your work breaks outside.
    • Open your window blinds or curtains in your home or office during the day to expose yourself to sunlight.


  • Install a night-light in your bathroom or use a flashlight when you visit the restroom. This will prevent you from having to turn on the bathroom lights, which can cause your body to become alert and wake up.


  • Eliminate smoking and tobacco completely from your life. Nicotine will stimulate your body and keep you awake at night; however, nicotine withdrawals can also keep you up at night if you smoke less before bedtime.
  • Do not take any sleep-inducing drugs without consulting with your doctor or health care provider beforehand. There may be alternate solutions to sleeping soundly throughout the night without the use of drugs.

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Categories: Better Sleeping | Personal Hygiene