Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and practices of everyday living that affect sleep and daytime functioning. Poor sleep hygiene can contribute to insomnia or any kind of sleep that is not refreshing. In the field of sleep disorders medicine, the importance of sleep hygiene is considerable.
If you suffer from insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness and you do not have any psychiatric disorder, medical disorder or other sleep disorder, poor sleep hygiene might be the cause of some of your sleep problems.
To improve your sleep hygiene and make the most of the restorative powers of sleep, the following instructions may help significantly (Zarcone, 2000), (Spielman & Anderson, 1999):
Stabilize physiological processes
Avoid naps. Note however that in some sleep disturbances, naps can be beneficial.
Maintain a consistent bed time 7 days a week
Restrict the time in bed to the average number of hours you have actually slept per night in the preceding week.
Maintain a consistent rising time 7 days a week
Wake at the same time every day, regardless of when you went to sleep
Take a hot bath 2 hrs before bedtime.
Get regular exercise each day. It is best to finish exercise at least 6 hrs before bedtime.
Do not expose yourself to bright light during the sleep period or just before going to bed. Get at least one half-hour of daylight during daytime
Limit caffeine use to three cups. Avoid caffeine after dinner or at least 6 hrs before bedtime
Arousal in Sleep Setting
Do not eat or drink heavily for 3 hrs before bedtime. A light bedtime snack can improve sleep.
Keep your bedroom quiet and at a comfortable temperature.
List problems and worries and set them aside to be reviewed later at a specific time.
Use the bedroom only for sleep, not work or other activities that lead to arousal.
Psychiatric patients, medical patients or people with other sleep disorders can profit from good sleep hygiene. It is however advisable to consult a physician.