Sleep Hygiene involves more than brushing your teeth before bed. Here are some tips for creating a physical and mental state conducive to a restful night's sleep.
Create a Sleep Environment
- Block out excess light with heavy shades or drapes, and noise-proof your space with the hum of a fan or earplugs.
- Use your bed and bedroom only for sleeping; do not use your sleep space for reading, watching tv, paying bills, etc.
Follow a Regular Schedule
- Settle into bed and wake at the same time each day, even on weekends.
- Limit naps to no more than an hour, and never nap later than mid-afternoon.
- Exercise in the late afternoon can be a great way to unwind, but do not exercise right before bed, which can be energizing.
Watch What and When You Eat and Drink
- Large meals right before bed may make you drowsy, but digestion can cause a restless night. An empty stomach can also keep you awake.
- Avoid caffeine for 6 hours before bedtime. Remember that in addition to coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks, and some drugs include caffeine. Stick to herbal teas and other caffeine-free beverages in the evening hours.
- Avoid alcohol before bed; it may help you fall asleep but can cause disturbances later in the night.
- Nicotine in tobacco may also keep you awake, so do not smoke.
Develop a Relaxation Ritual
- Get into a regular routine of relaxing pre-sleep behavior.
- Set your worries aside each night by writing down concerns or your "to do list" for the next day. If they're on paper, it is less likely that they will be running through your mind when you're trying to sleep.
- Take a warm bath or have a hot cup of herbal tea.
- Listen to quiet music or read under a soft light.