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Sleep Hygiene Tips
Compiled by Paul T. Barrett, Ph.D.

  1. Only try to sleep when you already feel sleepy. If you are not sleepy at bedtime, then do something else. Read a book, listen to soft music or browse through a magazine. Find something relaxing to take your mind off worries about sleep. This will relax your body and distract your mind.

  2. Donít lie awake in bed. If you are awake in bed more than 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and engage in a boring and quiet activity such as handwork or reading a boring book elsewhere. Do not remain in bed when you canít sleep. Return to bed only when you feel sleepy. You must not fall asleep outside the bedroom. Repeat this process of often as necessary throughout the night.

  3. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even when you donít have to go to work or school.

  4. Try to keep a regular schedule during the rest of the day. Regular times for meals, medications, chores, and other activities help keep your inner body clock running smoothly.

  5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Donít read, write, eat, watch TV, talk on the phone, or play cards in bed.

  6. Donít take naps. If you absolutely cannot make it through the day, make sure you nap less than one hour and are awake by 3 pm.

  7. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Donít consume anything with alcohol or caffeine in it four to six hours before you go to bed.

  8. Donít smoke or otherwise use nicotine close to bedtime or during the night.

  9. Exercise daily, but donít engage in strenuous exercise within six hours of bedtime.

  10. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, comfortable, fairly dark, and slightly cool. The hum from a fan or a white noise machine can help mask noises from outside.

  11. Don't have any clocks visible to you when you go to bed.

  12. Warm milk or a light snack before bedtime can help you sleep, but avoid large or heavy meals.

  13. A hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime can help you feel sleepy when you go to bed. A hot shower isnít as good but can also help if you donít like baths. The idea is to increase your core temperature. You should start feeling sleepy as your body temperature cools.

  14. Relaxing bedtime rituals and soothing activities can help you unwind and make it easier to go to sleep. This can include such things as a warm bath, light snack or a few minutes of reading.

  15. Schedule worry time during the day and put worries out of your head when it is time to sleep; you can write them down on 3x5 cards, and then let go of them.

  16. Avoid sleeping pills. If you must take them, use them cautiously. Most doctors wonít prescribe sleeping pills for more than three weeks. Donít drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills.

  17. Restrict your time in bed. If you continue to have difficulty falling asleep, go to bed 10 minutes later each night while still getting up at the same time. Your healthcare provider can help with this form of "sleep restriction therapy."

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