Increase Your Sleep Hygiene

How you feel on a day-to-day basis is directly impacted by your ability to get a well night’s sleep. While it isn’t possible to change every aspect that interrupts your sleep, there are many sleep habits you can pick up that can help. If you suffer from a sleep disorder then practicing good sleep habits also known as “sleep hygiene” can help drastically. From controlling what you take in right before bed to creating a bedtime schedule, here are some sleeping tips that may help:


  • Limiting what you consume: Certain things such as large meals, going to bed hungry and even over or under hydrating yourself can interfere with the way you sleep. Try to avoid large meals close to bedtime. If you are hungry close to bedtime have a light snack instead of a meal. If you don’t drink enough fluid you may find yourself waking up thirsty, drinking too much fluid and you may find yourself taking trips to the bathroom. Remember that certain beverages contain caffeine (coffee, teas and sodas), avoid these drinks later in the afternoon as the effects can last for hours.
  • Limit your chemical intake: Caffeine may be your best friend in the morning but refrain from consuming it later in the afternoon. Remember that caffeine isn’t only in coffee (you’ll find it in sodas, teas, chocolate and even some medications), check labels if you have to. Alcohol is another chemical to avoid, while it may appear to help you go to sleep - it can in fact cause you to sleep restlessly and awaken during the night. If you are a nicotine user you may also want to be sure you don’t use nicotine products too close to bedtime as they have a stimulating effect.
  • Naptime No No’s: If you have made naps a part of everyday life and find yourself not sleeping at night you may want to cut naps out of your routine. Naps can disrupt your normal sleep patterns. If you must take a nap, be sure to do so earlier in the day.
  • Get active: Exercising can help with your sleep problems if done right, however, try to avoid extremely demanding exercise too close to bedtime as it can actually wake you up. Try to find an exercise regimen that relaxes you afterwards.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule: By waking up and going to sleep around the same time each day you can set your body’s internal clock. Try to avoid staying up late and sleeping in on your days off because this still affects your internal clock.
  • See the light: Your body’s internal clock is directly affected by natural light, open up the blinds in the morning, take a walk outside on your break and limit artificial light while trying to go to sleep.
  • Create a relaxing pre-bedtime schedule: Avoid the release of cortisol (the stress hormone), don’t have stressful conversations or partake in stressful activities too close to bedtime. Instead, practice relaxing activities such as reading, meditation, watching television or taking a bath. You should also do your best to avoid bringing stress to bed. If something is on your mind, write it down for tomorrow.
  • Make your bed a “sleep area”: Use other areas of the house for activities like TV watching, doing work or reading a book. Make your beds main focus sleeping so your body associates it with that. Try to make your bed as comfortable as possible, don’t make your bedroom too cold or too hot, remove distracting noises or invest in something that makes white noise and limit the amount of unnatural light you are exposed to.
  • Get up if you can’t sleep: Don’t lay in bed awake for prolonged periods of time, get up and go to another room and do a relaxing activity (avoid TV, computers and cell phone use). Once you are tired again, return to bed and try again.

By modifying your sleep practices and improving your sleep hygiene using the methods mentioned, you should be able to sleep better and you’ll feel more rested each day. If you or your bed partner has noticed that you snore loudly, have pauses in breathing when you sleep, that you feel fatigued and tired during the day or that you move your legs at night when you sleep, these may be an indication of a sleep disorder. Our sleep specialists at Bay Area Chest Physicians may be able to help. Please contact us for an appointment.

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