life of
dr. mom

What is Sleep Hygiene and How do you Practice it?

The past three months have been stressful since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.  As a result, many people have been struggling with sleep. One for the first things I discuss with people who struggle with sleep is their sleep hygiene. 

Sleep hygiene is a set of actions prior to bedtime that tend to improve and maintain good sleep. Here are some recommendations:

  • Sleep as long as necessary to feel rested and then get out of bed. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults age 26-64 years old have 7-9 hours of sleep. 
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule, wake up the same time everyday, even on the weekend. 
  • Try not to force sleep and go to bed only when tired.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages after lunch and alcohol near bedtime.
  • Avoid smoking or other nicotine intake, particularly during the evening.
  • Make the bedroom environment suitable for sleep by reducing ambient light, turning off TV and radio.
  • Avoid screen time prior to bedtime.
  • Resolve concerns or worries before bedtime. One suggestion I have heard is putting a pad of paper by your bedside table and writing the concerns down so that the worries can be addressed the following day.
  • Exercise regularly for at least 20 minutes, preferably more than four to five hours prior to bedtime.
  • Avoid daytime naps, especially if they are longer than 20 to 30 minutes or occur late in the day.

When I follow these sleep hygiene recommendations I find that I am able to initiate falling asleep faster and maintain a deep sleep.  I have found that since having children, my sleep hygiene has improved because a well-rested mom is a happier mom!  My children love routine, and they have taught me how to maintain my own healthy sleep routine.  

This post was co-authored by Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP .

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