If you struggle with insomnia or multiple wakings through the night, you can certainly benefit from some sleep hygiene tips. The inability to get enough sleep—or sleep that’s truly restful—takes a major toll on your cognitive function and mental health, as well as your physical and emotional well-being.
Poor sleep makes it harder to maintain a positive mood, gives stress and anxiety more control over you, and makes it more difficult to keep our emotions in check. It also seriously interferes with your ability to concentrate and your energy levels, inhibiting mental and physical performance. Your immune system suffers too, as does your overall health.
“Sleep hygiene” refers to practices that help you relax before bed and encourage your body to fall asleep more readily. Not all the sleep hygiene tips below will necessarily work well for everyone; for example, while many people find it tiring to read at night, some find it stimulating. But with some trial, error, and persistence, anyone can find strategies that are personally effective.
So, here are some sleep hygiene tips to help you fall and stay asleep at night. Mix and match until you find the right combination for yourself.
Get More Rest with These Sleep Hygiene Tips
- Do your best to sleep on a regular schedule, going to bed and waking at the same time every day. This helps train your body to know when it’s time to fall asleep and get up.
- Get away from electronic screens for one to two hours before bed. Yes, that means not using your phone, tablet, e-reader, computer, or TV. Electronic screens are disruptive to your sleep patterns.
- Do a calming activity shortly before bed, like reading (a paper book, not an e-reader; see the previous entry) or a crossword puzzle. If you read lying down or reclining and hold the book just above eye level, it helps make you sleepy.
- Don’t sleep with the television on. This is even worse than watching it right before bed. You do process the sound during certain stages of sleep, and it’s likely to wake you or semi-wake you throughout the night.
- Relax in a warm bath a little before bedtime.
- Try aromatherapy with a scented candle or essential oils to soothe your body and mind. Lavender, jasmine, vanilla, and sandalwood are particularly relaxing to most people. Combine the aromatherapy with your warm bath, if you like.
- Drink a cup of decaffeinated herbal or green tea at night, at least a couple of hours before bed. While it’s relaxing (chamomile tea is a popular choice for chilling out), it can make you wake up to urinate.
- Don’t drink alcohol after about dinnertime. It makes you more likely to wake during the night, including to pee.
- Skip the caffeine after the afternoon, too. Obviously, it makes you more awake, and it’s another diuretic that can prompt you to wake up having to go to the bathroom.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
- Invest in comfortable, high-quality bedding.
- Make sure your bedroom gets nice and dark, as your brain is wired to get sleepy in the dark. Put up black-out curtains if necessary.
- Think positive thoughts before bed and when you climb under the covers. It’s common to think back or even obsess over negative things at bedtime, and this is one of the greatest enemies of sleep. Make a deliberate effort nightly to practice positivity and gratitude, and it will become easier, and eventually automatic.
- Incorporate natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety into your days and nights. Stress and anxiety have great power to keep you awake, tossing and turning in bed, and to prevent you from falling into a deep, restful sleep.
- Avoid using your bedroom as anything other than a bedroom. This particularly goes for using the same space as a home office. You should only associate the room with bedroom activities, and definitely not with a source of stress, like working.