GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE

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 Although we can feel powerless in the face of poor sleep, there are some simple changes we can make to ensure that we are supporting rather than undermining our body’s internal sleep systems.

People commonly report that implementing good sleeping habits is helpful. However, if you find your sleep does not improve despite making and maintaining lifestyle changes, it is recommended that you consult your physician.

Make sleep a priority—remind yourself that it is as important as exercising and eating well.



COOL DOWN

Body temperature plays an important role in sleep. We fall asleep as our body temperature drops, and a lower body temperature also helps us to stay asleep before it begins to rise in the early hours as we waken. You can encourage a drop in body temperature deliberately by taking a hot bath or shower about an hour before bedtime and then making sure your environment is cool (about 63ºF/17ºC). As the body cools, you will begin to feel sleepy. Ideally, exercise no less than 4 hours before going to bed, to avoid elevating your core temperature.

ENVIRONMENT

Sleep in a cool, dark room that is free of technology and has a comfortable bed. Turn any clocks to the wall to avoid watching the minutes in the early hours.

DON’T SPEND TOO LONG IN BED

If our mood is low, we may retreat to bed rather than face the world. However, going to bed too early means repeated awakenings and a much shallower sleep, and we thereby miss out on restorative Slow Wave Sleep.

KEEP TO A REGULAR SCHEDULE

Stabilize your circadian rhythm by going to bed and getting up at the same time—even at weekends and when on vacation.

GO TO BED WHEN YOU ARE SLEEPY

Listen to your body and go to bed when you are sleepy. Likewise, don’t go to bed before you are sleepy.

AVOID STIMULANTS

Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants are best avoided in the evening and perhaps even in the afternoon. Notice how you are affected. It is important to check ingredients—you may be surprised how prevalent caffeine is. It can be found in chocolate, many sodas, and even energy drinks.

NOTICE WHAT YOU EAT

Certain types of food eaten too near bedtime can affect your sleep, but they can affect everyone differently, so if you think food may be a factor pay attention to what you eat when completing your Sleep Diary

AVOID TRYING TO SLEEP

Actively trying to fall asleep will only make you more awake, particularly because you may begin to feel anxious that you are not falling asleep. If you are awake, be awake. Read, get up, meditate, or do some yoga or other calming activity.

REDUCE SCREEN TIME

Avoid screen time (including television and cellphones) an hour before bedtime, if possible.

PROTECT YOUR WIND-DOWN TIME

Notice what helps you to move from the busy-ness of the day to winding down toward bedtime. Avoid or keep to a minimum activity that keep you buzzing. However, notice if there is a sense of striving when it comes to doing particular activities or behaving in a particular way, with the expectation that they will lead to a good night’s sleep. This is unhelpful too.

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