Sleep Hygiene

A few weeks ago, I took a sleep hygiene class thru my managed healthcare plan, focusing on sleep improvement. Here are a few things from the class I wanted to share (this was written by Eric Egli, Ph.D. and Valerie Wolfe, Ph.D):

Sleep Hygiene

Caffeine - Avoid after 2pm, or at least 8 hours before bedtime. Caffeine has a half-life of 8 hours which means that 8 hours after you drink a cup of coffee, you still have half of the caffeine content in your system. Also, try to limit daytime consumption to under 4-5 cups/day (avoid entirely if you are sensitive.

Alcohol - Avoid alcohol after dinner. Alcohol makes people sleepy at first but will wake them several hours later as the liver finishes metabolizing the alcohol. Alcohol also causes poor quality sleep.

Food - Light snack at bedtime may help sleep. Snacking on carbohydrates or items containing L-Tryptophan (milk or turkey) can aid sleep. However, avoid large meals and fatty foods. Do not make a habit of eating in the middle of the night.

Exercise - In addition to improving your health and mood, exercise can deepen sleep. In order to get the maximal sleeping benefits, exercise 4-5 hours before bedtime. This will initially raise your body's temperature, the later drop in temperature helps induce sleep. Vigorous exercise right before bedtime can active the body and cause sleep difficulties.

Nicotine - Avoid around bedtime. Although it's best to quit altogether, smoking should be reduced prior to bedtime. Do not smoke when you wake up in the middle of the night. If you do, your body may become used to that nightly nicotine dose. You will then experience urges to smoke that may wake you up.

Don't clock watch - Most people just get increasingly miserable every time they check the time - not a good way to fall asleep! They use the time and frequency of checking to determine how miserable the next day will be. If done regularly enough, your mind will start waking you up just to check the time.

Avoid Naps - Especially in the afternoon, naps over about 20 minutes will tend to subtract from that night's sleep.

Make your bed a place for sleep only. Don't read, watch TV, work, pay the bills, or spend time worrying your bed/bedroom either during the day or at night. If you don't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and perform a quiet activity, such as reading a short story until you can barely keep your eyes open. Then return to bed.

Wake at the same time Sunday Through Sunday. This should be done consistently regardless of the time you went to bed or the amount of sleep obtained the previous night.

Use fatigue to train your body to fall asleep quickly and to sleep through the night. Many people exacerbate a minor sleep problem by going to bed too early (because they feel tired); this can cause people to wake through the night or to spend less time in deep sleep. Fatigue is critical in retraining the body to sleep well.

So, I've been doing the right thing by not giving into my body's current demand for frequent naps.

Thank you this was a great article. It seems like you work at a great place.

That is great Lara, I hope you are having good quality sleep at night! Hugs!!

The info that was mentioned but not written was that sleep aids usually are only effective for about 20% of the people. If you only use it occasionally (like 2-3 times a month) it can work well but for most of the population sleep aids don't work alone. For me, I didn't realize the half life of caffeine was so long, I am one that is sensitive to it and while I didn't have caffeine after 12pm before, I have cut my consumption in half since August and once my body adjusted to that (not fun process but I survived) I think I have been sleeping better at night overall. Anyway, I still am guilty of some of these but I try to employ what I can to help sleep better. Hugs.

Thanks for this, Auburnm.:slight_smile:

i also like to add that for those who do have fatigue or just being too tired because of a disease that taking a daily nap can be greatly beneficial.

I use to sleep 10 to 12 hours per night and my doctor still pushed me to nap in the middle of afternoon...just lay down he say and if you do not fall asleep after 10=15 minutes go ahead and get up if you want. I did this plan...after i quit my job and it made huge difference on my energy though i still went to bed and slept same amount of hours.

He pushed me to try it at work but i never could feel comfortable either napping in nurses's office...she had few beds for employees or in my car. BUT..another coworker often did take half hour nap in her car and said it helped a great deal.

I am speaking of one nap...not a lot. It is best to let your body get tired enough you will finally sleep at night.

Awesome tips. I see I have few changes to make, lol, and hopefully I will be sawing logs all night. Thanks Aubrnm!