Sleep hygiene makes a significant impact on a persons ability to get better sleep more often. Learn the top 10 sleep hygiene principles from Dr Joti.

Most of us have probably heard of the term sleep hygiene but not everyone necessarily knows exactly what it means. Sleep hygiene refers to habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis. This isn’t just a regular bedtime routine but includes a number of daily practices that can help us to get restful sleep and feel alert during the day. 

These principles will help everyone make improvements to their sleep. For most of us it would be a challenge to implement all ten principles at once, so we suggest starting with 2-3 that will make the most impact on your sleep. The best way to determine which principles to start with is first determining the root cause of your sleep difficulties. Once these principles have become a part of your regular routine continue to add others.

Sleep Hygiene Principles

Here are ten of the most important sleep hygiene principles:

  1. Have a consistent wake-up time (even on weekends). This builds a steady sleep pattern.
  2. Expose yourself to natural outside light upon waking. Open your blinds and have your morning cup of coffee or tea while gazing out the window!
  3. Do not nap! (Unless you’re a shift worker) Naps interfere with the restorative value of sleep later at night. If you’re tired, the best strategy is to get into bed earlier that evening.
  4. Do not have caffeine after noon! The half-life of caffeine is five hours – which means that five hours after having caffeine, 50 per cent is still left in your body; it takes another five hours for the caffeine to be reduced in half again to 25 per cent, and so on. So, by 10 pm, 25% of the caffeine from your 12 pm coffee will still be in your body.
  5. Don’t do intensive exercise before bedtime (approximately 2-3 hours). Exercise gets us physiologically aroused and activated and this is incompatible with sleep.
  6. Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Even one unit of alcohol interferes with sleep quality and makes sleep less restorative.
  7. Create a bedtime routine that’s relaxing (for the hour before sleep) Have decaffeinated tea or a warm bath, dim the lights, and put away electronic devices. Make a clear distinction between daytime activities associated with alertness, and bedtime ones associated with relaxation.
  8. Make your bedroom environment comfortable and conducive to sleep. Get comfortable pillows and bedding, darken the room and keep the temperature moderate.
  9. Restrict your bed for two activities: sleep and sex. Don’t watch TV, eat, talk on the phone, argue or use your computer while in bed.
  10. If you can’t fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, get out of bed and don’t go back to sleep until you are sleepy – not just tired.

Final Thoughts

If implementing these sleep hygiene principles does not make a significant improvement on your sleep you may want to speak to a medical professional about possible underlying causes of sleep problems.