Sleep Hygiene Tips

  • Establish a regular time for going to bed and getting up in the morning. Stick to this schedule even on weekends and during vacations.
  • Use the bed for sleep only, not for reading, watching television, or working. Excessive time in bed disrupts sleep.
  • Avoid naps, especially in the evening.
  • Exercise before dinner. A low point in energy occurs a few hours after exercise; sleep will then come more easily. Exercising close to bedtime, however, may increase alertness.
  • Take a hot bath about 1.5 - 2 hours before bedtime. This alters the body's core temperature rhythm and helps people fall asleep more easily and more continuously. (Taking a bath shortly before bed increases alertness.)
  • Do something relaxing in the 30 minutes before bedtime. Reading, meditation, and a leisurely walk are all appropriate activities.
  • Keep the bedroom relatively cool and well ventilated.
  • Do not look at the clock. Obsessing over time will just make it more difficult to sleep.
  • Eat light meals, and schedule dinner 4 - 5 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bedtime can help sleep, but a large meal may have the opposite effect.
  • Spend a half hour in the sun each day. The best time is early in the day. (Take precautions against overexposure to sunlight by wearing protective clothing and sunscreen.)
  • Avoid fluids just before bedtime so that sleep is not disturbed by the need to urinate.
  • Avoid caffeine in the hours before sleep.
  • If one is still awake after 15 - 20 minutes, go into another room, read or do a quiet activity using dim lighting until feeling very sleepy. (Don't watch television or use bright lights.)
  • If distracted by a sleeping bed partner, moving to the couch or a spare bed for a couple of nights might be helpful.
  • If a specific worry is keeping one awake, thinking of the problem in terms of images rather than in words may allow a person to fall asleep more quickly and to wake up with less anxiety.