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 .