Dr. Grossi's Blog

Sleep Hygiene

Dr. Philip Grossi
Sunday, 08 July 2012

Discussions about sleep occupy a prominent place in many discussions in the office. It is surprising that many people do not practice good sleep hygiene especially in light of the fact that the elements of good sleep hygiene are well known.  I am setting them out for easy reference.

illustration for sleep hygiene blog - mdshrinkGood sleep hygiene starts with a quiet, somewhat cool room with a comfortable bed which can be made dark.  It should be used only for sleep and sex. The bed should not be used as a work area. It is desirable to go to sleep at the same time every day including weekends and to arise at about the same time every day including weekends. If an alarm is needed then it should be used and the time should be adjusted so that the person is not experiencing daytime sleepiness. It is best to avoid eating within two hours of bedtime and avoid heavy meals within four hours of bedtime.  Excessive fluids in the evening should be avoided as should energy drinks or caffeine. Avoid or change the schedule of any medications that interfere with sleep so that they are taken earlier in the day. Many over-the-counter medications interfere with sleep.

In general anything that produces stimulation should be avoided near bedtime.  This would include exciting television programs, video games, arguments, fights, disagreements, and strenuous exercise. It is best to exercise in the morning or afternoon. If possible, the bedroom should not have a television, game console, or computer. Generally naps should be avoided and exposure to a lot of natural light all during the day should be encouraged. Most people find it helpful to have a brief routing leading up to going to bed.  This could include a warm shower or bath, reading, a small snack, etc.

Following the above simple principles will help to produce sleep reliably.

(Read the related post about circadian rhythms.)