Sleep Hygiene Tips

Getting good sleep is important in maintaining health. There are several things that you can do to promote good sleep and sleep hygiene, and ultimately get better sleep.

What is sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is defined as behaviors that one can do to help promote good sleep using behavioral interventions.

Sleep hygiene tips:

Maintain a regular sleep routine

  • Go to bed at the same time. Wake up at the same time. Ideally, your schedule will remain the same (+/- 20 minutes) every night of the week.

Avoid naps if possible

  • Naps decrease the ‘Sleep Debt’ that is so necessary for easy sleep onset.
  • Each of us needs a certain amount of sleep per 24-hour period. We need that amount, and we don’t need more than that.
  • When we take naps, it decreases the amount of sleep that we need the next night – which may cause sleep fragmentation and difficulty initiating sleep, and may lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation.

Don’t stay in bed awake for more than 5-10 minutes.

  • If you find your mind racing, or worrying about not being able to sleep during the middle of the night, get out of bed, and sit in a chair in the dark. Do your mind racing in the chair until you are sleepy, then return to bed. No TV or internet during these periods! That will just stimulate you more than desired.
  • If this happens several times during the night, that is OK. Just maintain your regular wake time, and try to avoid naps.

Don’t watch TV or read in bed.

  • When you watch TV or read in bed, you associate the bed with wakefulness.
  • The bed is reserved for two things – sleep and 'hankypanky'.

Drink caffeinated drinks with caution

  • The effects of caffeine may last for several hours after ingestion. Caffeine can fragment sleep, and cause difficulty initiating sleep. If you drink caffeine, use it only before noon.
  • Remember that soda and tea contain caffeine as well.

Avoid inappropriate substances that interfere with sleep

  • Cigarettes, alcohol, and over-the-counter medications may cause fragmented sleep.

Exercise regularly

  • Exercise before 2 pm every day. Exercise promotes continuous sleep.
  • Avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime. Rigorous exercise circulates endorphins into the body which may cause difficulty initiating sleep.

Have a quiet, comfortable bedroom

  • Set your bedroom thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Generally, a little cooler is better than a little warmer.
  • Turn off the TV and other extraneous noise that may disrupt sleep. Background ‘white noise’ like a fan is OK.
  • If your pets awaken you, keep them outside the bedroom.
  • Your bedroom should be dark. Turn off bright lights.
  • Have a comfortable mattress.
  • If your bed partner snores, this could be fragmenting your sleep. Consider snoring remedies to help stop snoring.

If you are a ‘clock watcher’ at night, hide the clock.

Have a comfortable pre-bedtime routine

  • A warm bath, shower
  • Meditation, or quiet time
  • Some find ASMR helpful

Some who are struggling with sleep regularly find it helpful to print out these recommendations and read them regularly. If you accidentally miss some of recommendations, or have a bad night, do not fret. By following these sleep hygiene recommendations, you will help yourself to get into a routine that promotes good sleep opportunities.

View Comments (33)

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  • Every night around 3:00 I am awakened by a hot flash. Then I toss and turn from 1 to 21/2 hours. Would it be OK to take a Melatonin at this time? I am 79 years young.

  • I'm a life-long insomniac. I've tried the gamut of pharmaceuticals. They don't work and are a waste of money. I was on benzodiazepines for 15 years and have been weening off of klonopin for the last year. I have gotten down to 0.25 mg/night from 3 mg per night and have been at this level for about 3 months. However, I'm sleeping very little. I fall a sleep for 1-2 hours, then I wake up for a few hours. If I fall back asleep, it is for another 1-2 hours and then time to get up. This repeats every night. I don't remember the last time that I slept for 4 hours straight. I'm starting to worry about my health, my blood pressure is higher than ever and I don't know what to do.

    I've tried all the sleep hygiene stuff and some of it helps a little bit. Eliminating blue light, caffeine, alcohol and substances is good. Also, maintaining a regular sleep schedule is helpful. Keeping the room at cool temperatures is a good idea too. The 5-10 minutes in bed is just annoying to read. I've tried this many times and getting out of bed and sitting upright just seems to wake me up.

    I get narcolepsy during the day because I don't get quality sleep. I worry that I will loose my job if someone sees me nodding off. So, I try to avoid naps, but I nod off.

    I'm 40 years old and have only seen my insomnia get worse as I age. My problem seems to be that I have a very active mind. Even my dreams, good or bad, prevent me from sleeping. I wake up most nights, after an hour or two, from having extremely vivid dreams. I'm so frustrated and I don't know what to do about it. It just seems hopeless.

    Any ideas or suggestions?

    • Try any type of meditation.
      It will take time to adjust your mind with meditation.
      It works as wonders for racing mind and sleep.

  • I have had severe sleeping problems for years to the extent where I am almost unable to function during the day, that is I over-sleep quite chronically. I have, in the past been diagnosed with chronic pyschiatric conditions, which may well be a factor in these areas, if not the factor. These involve the use of medications to allegedly asssist them. I am at my wits end, as I simply cannot get out of bed in the mornings, and fuction, DURING The day- I tend to be quite good during the evening periods, but most jobs require you to work during day-time hours.

  • I know this sounds silly but what if you’re afraid of the dark? Yes I’m a 34 almost 35 year old adult but I live alone with an active imagination and I seem to scare myself with things I see on tv and movies. I’ve been diagnosed with insomnia so laying in the dark is a no no, so I sleep with my tv on. How do I get more sleep without being scared AND sleeping in the dark. Pls help

    • TVs and movies are considered blue lights. They will stimulate u, making u harder to sleep. Find more on red led light therapy or lavander like glow lullaby or glow dreaming

    • Bedroom temperature should be little towards colder side. If I am hungry, it is little difficult for me to sleep, if you take super too early, take it near sleep time and see if it helps. Follow the other tips too in this article.

  • I have mega problems trying to sleep,tried all the medications which do not work.
    I'm 71years old and have never fallen asleep naturally.
    I seem to fight it.
    Tried Hypno one session,no luck I'm afraid.
    Can you help please.

    • Perhaps you are saying that even prescription medicines don't help you sleeping. Is it true. Have your doctor ruled out any thyroid problem?

  • I appreciate you talked about how TV and internet will only stimulate you more and make it harder to sleep. My aunt is looking to find a sleep disorder clinic for her teenage son. I think I will talk to her about finding a clinic who will also help her son avoid gaming before bed.

    • TV and internet might stimulate you but perhaps listening to soft soothing music might help.

  • m

    I'm from Adelaide in Australia I will contact Dr Marcia Lindsey in the hope that she could recommend someone over here that specializes in sleep disorders. I am 61 and years ago was diagnosed with ADHD along with my son.
    We have both always had trouble sleeping but this site has given us food for thought. It seems that I am doing everything to make the situation worse. Drinking tea and alcohol, smoking and not exercising nearly enough. At the moment it is 3 am and here I am sitting in front of the computer, wrong again. I have quite a bit of work to do on my sleep hygiene but I'm sure it will help.


  • I’m 66 and have been taking sleeping pills every night since the age of 18 that’s 48 Years. My insomnia began when I started working nights and could not sleep during the day. Took over the counter drugs, Formula 44 cough medicine, prescription drugs such as restoril, ambien, halcion, dalmane and throughout most of my life I’ve combined the pills with Benadryl 50 g. I still have trouble sleeping and the little I get is fragmented, have trouble falling asleep and waking up numerous times. I have heard of sleep hygiene but have not done entirely. I stay in bed awake cause I’m tired both at night and in the morning. I’ve had no success trying to lower the dosage on the pills, cause I get anxiety attacks, raising my heart. I wish I could find a clinic or medical trial where I can go for a couple of weeks to help me. I worked 35 horrible years with this chronic insomnia and I thought when I retired at 55 I would get better because I didn’t have the stress of waking up early but to no avail. I wll try the sleep hygiene. Thank you. Any advice will be appreciated.

    • It seems you have become addicted to sleeping medicines. Ask your doctomirtazapiner to give you mirtazapine which is an antidepressant with sedative properties but doesn't cause addiction. with it also try to taper off the medicines you are currently taking for sleep and of course use the tips given in this article.

    • Evelyn,
      There is help for you. Medical doctors in the Houston Med Center in Texas refer patients to Dr Marcia Lindsey, in Bellaire Texas - a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I am sure she would be able to refer you to someone in your local area. You will need to be monitored by an MD to wean from your current medications. With this assistance, you will succeed - and you'll be so very happy that you did!!
      Happy Retirement!

      • I excersize in the morning at a gym 5 minutes down the road from home
        My issue is that I work in the city
        So I go to bed around 930 pm ( would be difficult to go to bed earlier due to my toddler) wake up a 440 am
        Excersize , and take a train to the city at 715 AM
        I then nap during the 45 minute train ride
        My issue is... what do I do the mornings that I don't excersize and ... the weekends
        It would be crazy to wake up 440 Saturday morning and then take the same nap at 715
        Due to this crazy schedule my sleep schedule is thrown off
        Need help

        • I have read that you should keep the same sleep schedule all the time. I worked as a night nurse in my younger and wasn't about to sleep during the day on my off days but back then I really didn't have a sleep problem. Now I can stay an a set sleep schedule but can't sleep! I don't know if it is just because I am old or if it is caused from my previous schedules. ??

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