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Sleepdex - Resources for Better Sleep

Sleep Hygiene

Most important things

Temperature – neither too hot nor too cold

Darkness

Quiet

A place to lie down and stretch out

 

If you have those things covered, you are most of the way to good sleep hygiene.

Bad sleep habits and practices lead to poor quality and inadequate sleep.  These practices, rituals, behaviors, and norms around sleep are referred to as sleep hygiene.  Improvements in sleep hygiene offer an “easy win” in the search for better sleep, and should be the first thing you go after when sleep troubles show up.

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Quiet

Silence or White Noise is probably the best.  Total, absolute silence may be creepy at a subconscious level.  Our primitive ancestors didn’t sleep in total silence.  Mild and predictable sounds are tolerable for most.

Screens

Some people have televisions in their bedrooms and watching TV right before going to sleep (or worse, during nighttime awakenings) is not a good idea.

Further, looking up close at computer screens and tablets shortly before bed can be detrimental.  The light from those screens, although dim compared to Sunlight, influences the brain.

Food/Substances

It’s hard to get to sleep on an empty stomach, but dinner several hours before bedtime is usually adequate.  Some people sleep better if they have a small snack before bed.  Large meals, although they can make us sleepy, often result in disrupted sleep a few hours later, and sleeping after a large meal can make acid reflux worse in people who suffer that condition.

Caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep.  The effects of these on sleep behavior vary widely from person to person.  If you don’t know how your body reacts, keep a sleep diary and record your consumption times and quantities and sleep quality the following night.

Time

Go to bed the same time every night.

Avoid bedtime procrastination, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Set alarm and get up the same time every morning (even if you had a bad night with frequent awakenings).

If you can’t get to sleep or wake up for an extended period during the night, get out of bed and do something else.

Consider your napping during the day – We support naps, but frequent or long naps can mess up your nighttime sleep.

Darkness

Small nightlights might be OK, but some sensitive people can’t even handle that.  Illuminated clocks even bother some.

Bed

Dedicated place for sleep.  This is psychologically important.  We don’t think expensive mattresses and bedding materials are worth it, but having a comfortable place to lie down and stretch out is important.

It is important to subconsciously connect being in bed with sleeping.  Don’t read in bed or talk on the phone.

Experiment!

The right way to sleep is different for different people, and it may change for you over time.  So just because you’ve found one optimal sleep regimen doesn’t mean that five years later your optimal may not have changed.  Even in the short term, optimal sleep hygiene practices can vary from week to week.  For instance, pain or sickness may make the sleeper wish to shift to a different bedtime or with different coverings, or menstruation may make women’s tolerance for cold and heat change.   The best approach to sleep hygiene appears to be "strong opinions, loosely held".  Go whole hog with your hygiene practices and keep doing them every night, but be ready to change them when needed.

Our quick fixes for insomnia start with sleep hygiene improvements.

Other resources

http://www.med.umich.edu/painresearch/patients/Sleep.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Disorders

 

Parsomnias

 

Dyssomnias

 

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

 

Specific Groups

 

Women and Sleep Disorders

Insomnia in old people

Sleep and alcohol

Realistic Sleep

 

Prevalence of Insomnia

Hypnogogia

Debunking mattress hype

Orexin Antagonists in the Spotlight

 

 

"O Sleep, rest of all things, mildest of the gods, balm of the soul..."

(Iris to Hypnos. Ovid, Metamorphoses)