Rules of Good Sleep Hygiene

Want to excel in industry or even school? Be sure to get plenty of sleep.
Want a strong immune system?  Sleep.
Want vibrant good health, happiness, and a slim figure?  Sleep, sleep, sleep!

Helpful Tips for GR8SLEEP

All of us experience difficulty sleeping occasionally.  When the problem persists it becomes difficult and frustrating.  We need to pay extra attention and take measures to help ourselves.

Sleep is a vital part of life. In fact, a lack of sleep can have severe consequences. It is essential to understand the importance of sleep.  Learn to recognize symptoms of sleep problems and get them treated. Remember, one family members sleep problem can affect others, especially bed partners. 

In the absence of a specific medical sleep disorder, good sleep depends on practicing good sleep hygiene.  There are few things in life more frustrating than lying in bed trying to sleep.  Good sleep can be achieved by most of us, if having problems, following the tips of good sleep hygiene becomes much more important.  These are just guidelines to help your sleep.  Each of us has specific issues in our lives, which may come in to play a role in our sleep patterns.

Certain behavioral and/or life-style modifications such as relaxation, meditation, self-hypnosis, cognitive therapy, and sleep restriction may be helpful when guided by a Psychologist/ Psychiatrist with an expertise in sleep disorders. The following is a list of helpful tips on GR8SLEEP.

Sleep Hygiene Guidelines.

Good hygiene is anything that helps you to have a healthy life.  The idea behind sleep hygiene is the same as dental hygiene or personal hygiene.  Sleep hygiene keeps your mind and body rested, strong and healthy.

Keep Regular Schedule.  The best way to ensure a good nights sleep is to maintain a regular sleep schedule. The biologic clock needs to be kept in "sync" and always get up at the same time, regardless of how much or little one slept.  Regular times for meals, medications, chores, and other activities help keep the inner body clock run smoothly.

Avoid drinks high in caffeine (coffee, colas, tea and chocolate) after 3pm or a few hours before bedtime.  Its a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep and stay in your system longer than you think; its half-life is four to six hours! Caffeine is also present in various over-the-counter medicines.

Do not have any alcohol within six hours of your bedtime.  Drinking alcoholic beverages can suppress the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and the deep sleep stages and can results in fragmented, shallow sleep.  Alcohol and caffeine disturb sleep.

Do not have a cigarette or any other source of nicotine before bedtime.  Nicotine may make it difficult to fall asleep and lead to fragmented sleep.  Nicotine found in cigarettes and cigars is a stronger stimulant than caffeine. Smokers who break their habit may experience a dramatic improvement in their sleep quality.

Do not go to bed hungry, but dont eat a big meal near bedtime either. Avoid eating within 2 hours of bedtime.  Have a glass of warm milk or eat a light snack such as banana or an apple if hungry.  Milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which has been shown in research to help people go to sleep.  Avoid consuming protein at bedtime.

Get regular exercise during the day to reduce the level of stress hormones physically and mentally to promote deeper sleep. Avoid any exercise within 6 hours of your bedtime.  You should exercise on a regular basis, but do it earlier in the day. 

Stop working an hour before bedtime to calm mental activity.

Avoid taking naps if you can within 6 hours of your bedtime.  If you must take a nap, try to keep it short 15 to 20 minutes and not more that 30 minutes.  Never take a nap after 2 p.m. 

Make sure its quiet in the bedroom.  Minimize noise with earplugs.

Make sure your bedroom is well-ventilated with fresh air. Fresh morning air is best for your health. Keep comfortable temperature (below 75°F and above 54°F).

Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool. An easy way to remember this: it should remind you of a cave.  While this may not sound romantic, it works well for most people. Also, an eye mask may be helpful. Use a small night-light instead if you need to get up at night. 
Consider having pets away from your sleeping area. Having a pet in bed with you might cause you to wake up if the pet moves around on the bed or if you have allergies.

Do not read, write, eat, watch TV, talk on the phone, or play cards in bed. Remember the bed is used for sleep and sex only.  Make sure the bed is comfortable. If the bed is older than eight years consider getting a new one. 

A good neck or back support pillow may also be helpful.  Make sure sleep surface and coverings provide you with comfort.

Practice rituals that help you relax each night before bed.  This can include such things as a warm bath to reduce tension, light snack, gentle stretching, a few minutes of reading something of your interest, listen to a quiet soothing music, or meditating. 

Get quality and quantity sleep.  Get a full nights sleep on a regular basis anywhere between 4 to12 hours of sleep to feel fully refreshed. 

If there is an infant in the family, arrange for some help from family or friends in order to get a few more hours of sleep each week until your infant is sleeping through the night.  

Set Aside a "Worry Time" and try to get rid of the things that make you worry or upset you.  If you are unable to do this, then find the time during the day to get all of your worries out of your system.  Your bed is a place to rest, not a place to worry. 

Take a brief nap for 10 to 15 minutes about 8 hours after you wake up. This  may help in restoring daytime alertness without interfering.

Dont go to bed unless you are sleepy. If you are not asleep after 15 minutes or so, then get out of the bed and find something relaxing to do in another room to keep you busy.  Your bedroom is not a place to go when you are bored.  For instance, try reading a book, listen to a soft music, browse through a magazine or internet, watch favorite relaxing program.  Find something relaxing, but not stimulating, to take your mind off of worries about sleep.  This will relax your body and distract your mind.  Try again to sleep in about an hour or once you feel sleepy again, then go back to bed and try to fall asleep.

Get up at the same time every morning.  Do this even on weekends and holidays. Its important to maintain a regular sleep habit; this will help you fall asleep on time.

Avoid sleeping pills, or use them cautiously.  Do not drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills.

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