How can we get sleep and stay asleep?
There are many things you do during the day that can affect the quality and quantity of your sleep. The things you do during the day and before bedtime are known as sleep hygiene (National Sleep Foundation). Helpful sleep hygiene tips include:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule and routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day–even on weekends. A change in your schedule (like if you sleep in or stay up late on the weekend), can disrupt your body’s natural “clock”.
- Create a relaxing routine before bed. Routines can start 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime and might include taking a warm bath, reading, listening to calming music, or meditation.
- Create a sleep friendly bedroom. A bedroom that is dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool can help promote restful sleep. Keep “sleep stealers” such as television, computers, and cellphones out of the bedroom. Reserve your bedroom for sleep only.
- Be active throughout the day. Being active during the day can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. For some, participating in vigorous physical activity too close to bedtime makes it hard to fall asleep. Find what works best for you!
- Make sure you get natural light. This is especially important first thing in the morning to help keep a regular sleep-wake cycle. During dark months, bright artificial lights can help.
- Avoid stimulants too close to bedtime. Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes can all negatively affect your sleep.
- Avoid screen time at least 1 hour before bedtime. Avoiding screen time helps your body to wind down before sleeping. The blue light from electronic screens (cellphones, tablets, computers, TVs) tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime making it hard to fall asleep.
- Limit napping during the day if you have trouble falling asleep at night. If you must nap, nap for no more than 20 minutes.
- Do not go to bed too hungry or too full. Heavy meals should be avoided at least two hours before bedtime. Being too hungry before bed can also make it hard to fall asleep. Eating a small nutritious snack, such as an apple or a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk, can help stave off hunger until breakfast.
- Keep a sleep diary. A sleep diary (National Sleep Foundation) is a great way to track your sleep. Once you have finished a few entries, look for patterns or practices that might be helping or disturbing your sleep. For example, are your daily naps making it hard for you to fall asleep? Does exercising in the afternoon make you fall asleep faster? Making small changes in your habits can set you on the path to better sleep!
This item was last modified on June 18, 2020