Sleep hygiene is to help promote good sleep using behavioral changes. Changing sleep patterns takes a few days/weeks, so keep at it! Research shows that if/when you make these changes, the effects kick in soon and translate to increased sleep, helping you to feel refreshed, have more energy, change your mood, and decrease pain.
- Go to bed at the same time each day (+/- 20 minutes).
- One hour prior to your set bedtime, turn off lights, TV, computer, and other electronic devices.
- Keep the bedroom dark and cool.
- Use the bed only for sleep and sexual activity. This helps to associate bed with sleep, not with other activities like watching TV, paying bills, etc.
- No children or animals in bed.
- One hour prior to sleep, try to breathe, meditate, stretch, relax, take a warm bath or shower. Even if you don’t fall asleep, this will allow your body to rest and feel relaxed.
- Put a notepad and pen next to your bed. Write all last-minute thoughts down so your brain can let it go and sleep.
- Keep caffeine to a minimum, especially late afternoons and evenings, as effects can last several hours after ingestion.
- Naps mess with sleep patterns. If you must, nap no more than 20 minutes to refresh.
- Get regular exercise. Aerobic exercise such as walking helps reduce stress chemicals in the body and thus promotes better sleep.
- Have a set wake up time (+/- 20 minutes).
- Limit alcoholic beverages as they interrupt sleep cycles as well.
- If you wake in the night and remain awake longer than 20 minutes, get up, go to a different room, and participate in a quiet activity. Do not turn on lights, TV, computers. Return to bed when you feel sleepy.
Information adapted from International Spine & Pain Institute and American Sleep Association.