Sleep Hygiene for Insomnia
Sleep Hygiene Rules for Insomnia
Sleep hygiene refers to “cleaning up” sleep habits that interfere with good sleep. These habits often develop in response to insomnia, but are counterproductive. Practicing good sleep hygiene is recommended for all patients with sleep difficulties.
- Sleep as much as needed to feel refreshed and healthy during the following day, but not more. Excessively long times in bed seem related to fragmented and shallow sleep. Typically, 7-8 hours per night is appropriate for most patients.
- Maintain a consistent, regular routine. Start by setting a routine time to wake up and get out of bed. Once your sleep improves, keep to a standard time to go to bed. This routine needs to be maintained every day of the week, including weekends.
- Do not try to force yourself to fall asleep. This will only tend to make you more awake and is counterproductive. Only go to bed when you feel sleepy. If you wake up in the middle of the night, let yourself fall asleep within 15-20 minutes. If you cannot fall asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing. When you are sleepy, return to bed and go to sleep.
- Use the bedroom only for sleep and intimacy. Do not watch TV, eat, drink, read, have arguments or discussions while in bed. These tend to keep you awake. IIn the morning, expose yourself to sunlight to support the body’s sleep clock. Taking a brisk walk or sitting by a window or on a porch may be helpful!
- Avoid napping unless absolutely required. Particularly avoid routine, daily naps. Napping interferes with the ability to fall asleep at night. If you need to nap for safety reasons (driving, etc) then a short 30-60 minute nap is okay.
- Avoid coffee, alcohol, and nicotine. Caffeine will tend to keep you awake. The effects of caffeine on sleep usually takes several hours to go away, however in some people the effects are prolonged. Alcohol may make some people fall asleep more quickly (but not everyone), however alcohol leads to fragmented sleep and does not provide good restful sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant and tends to reduce the quality of sleep, and nicotine withdrawal at night tends to do the same. Quitting smoking is recommended for all smokers for many reasons.
- Exercise in the late afternoon or early evening regularly can improve sleep quality by helping you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Do not exercise within several hours (2 or 3 hours) of attempting to go to sleep – this will keep you awake. Gentle stretching for relaxation can help you fall asleep.
- Ensure you are sleeping in a quiet, dark, comfortable environment. Temperatures between 60 F and 75 F are best. Block out lights with a curtain or a sleep ask. Eliminate outside/background noise.
- A light bedtime snack (especially warm milk or similar drink) seems to help many individuals sleep. Hunger may disturb sleep. Avoid large meals prior to bed, especially anything that might trigger indigestion or heartburn.
- Move the bedroom clock to where you cannot see it. Some recommend removing the clock from the bedroom entirely. Looking at the clock will keep you awake; it does not help you fall asleep.
- Engage in Calming Activities prior to bed such as taking a bath or meditation. Consider relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Avoid looking at electronic devices that give off bright light at least 1 hour prior to bed. This can make it harder to fall asleep.
- Manage stress and solve problems before bed. Resolve your worries before bed. Write down what is on your mind and save them for tomorrow. Address anxiety issues. If you continue to have problems with stress/anxiety, consider working with a counselor to address these issues further.
In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.
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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Approved by the UHS Patient Education Committee Revised 01/06/2021