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Getting Quality Sleep: Tips for Good Sleep Hygiene

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Updated April 23, 2008

Have you noticed that you are more likely to have strong emotional responses when you are tired? One key to good emotion regulation is getting good sleep. Sleep hygiene, or the practice of establishing good sleep habits, can help. Below are sleep hygiene tips that have been shown to improve sleep quality:

1. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.

If you are having trouble sleeping, you should avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, especially several hours before bedtime.

2. Do not eat large meals immediately before bedtime.

Avoid large or heavy meals, or foods that might upset your stomach, for at least a couple of hours before bedtime.

3. Have a light snack.

A completely empty stomach can interfere with sleep. Having a light snack, or a warm glass of milk, can help.

4. Establish a pre-bed ritual.

Doing the same relaxing ritual each night before you go to bed can help to prepare your body for sleep. Take a warm bath, or read quietly.

5. Use relaxation techniques.

Prior to going to bed, practice a relaxation strategy that works for you, including deep breathing, imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation.

6. If you can't sleep, get out of bed.

Go to bed when sleepy, and get out of bed if you are unable to sleep. Return to bed again only when you feel sleepy.

7. Use the bed for sleep only!

You should use your bed for sleeping (or sex) only (no watching TV, eating, etc). This will help to train your body that being in bed means it is time to sleep.

8. Follow a regular sleep schedule.

Get up at the same time every morning, and aim to go to bed at around the same time each night.

9. No napping.

Do not take daytime naps, even if you are feeling very tired because your sleep was disrupted the night before. Taking a nap will only cause more sleep disruption the next night.

10. Make your bedroom a comfortable sleeping environment.

Keep your bedroom environment comfortable for sleeping. Turn off lights, reduce noise, and make sure the temperature is comfortable.

11. Exercise at the right times.

Get regular exercise during the day, but limit exercise right before you go to bed.

12. If the problem persists, get help.

Talk to your primary care physician or psychiatrist if you have chronic sleep problems, as these may be related to a medical condition, or caused by medication you are taking.

Sources:

Morin, CM, and Espie, CA. "Insomnia: A Clinical Guide to Assessment and Treatment." New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2003.

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