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Information about Lifestyle Practices that can affect your Sleep

Physical activity

  • Develop regular daytime activity and a regular exercise schedule

  • Do not perform vigorous exercise close to bedtime. Gentle stretching may be helpful.

  • Try moderate regular exercise in the late afternoon or early evening

  • Avoid vigorous exercise within 4 hours of bedtime

  • Be sure to check with your health care provider before starting a new exercise program/schedule

Reduce light, excessive temperature, and noise during sleep

  • A dark room is more conducive to sleep; consider using a night light for safety's sake

  • Avoid room temperatures over 75 degrees (24 degrees Celsius) and below 54 degrees (12 degrees Celsius)

  • Noise in the environment can keep you from falling asleep or back to sleep and may cause more frequent awakenings

Food and sleep

  • Regular meal times can help set our biological clock, which in turn helps balance our sleep-wake rhythm

  • Try to eat dinner several hours before bedtime

  • Do not eat a snack in the middle of the night

  • Avoid drinking too much liquid in the evening

Effect of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine on sleep

  • Alcohol is a nervous system depressant that relaxes you and makes you drowsy. This is why people use it to help them fall asleep which is a poor sleep habit to get into!

  • Alcohol causes light sleep and awakenings later in the night

  • Alcohol makes you dehydrated and may cause you to awaken due to thirst

  • Alcohol can make the effect of medications such as sleeping and pain pills stronger and that can be dangerous

  • Social drinkers should avoid alcoholic beverages 4 to 6 hours before bedtime

  • Do not use alcohol as a "nightcap" to get to sleep.

  • Caffeine is a stimulant that interferes with the natural sleep cycle

  • Do not drink or eat products with caffeine after lunch

  • Some medications contain caffeine or other stimulants so check labels and talk with your health care provider and pharmacist

  • Never discontinue a prescribed medication without talking to your health care provider and pharmacist

  • Nicotine is a powerful stimulant

  • Nicotine is related to difficulty falling asleep and sleep improves when nicotine use is discontinued

  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid smoking about 2 hours before bedtime and when you wake up during the night

Get some light into your life.

  • Light has a strong effect on our biological or internal clock and that affects our body rhythms such as sleep-wake

  • Early morning light may be helpful to organize our sleep-wake body rhythm

  • Try to spend 30 to 60 minutes outside during the day

Wind down before bedtime.

  • Set aside some time in the evening to unwind

  • Set aside about an hour or so before bedtime to do something relaxing

  • Develop a pre-bedtime routine - something you do every night before going to bed - a routine that's not too stimulating

Develop a regular sleep-wake schedule

  • Set a regular wake-up time for each day

  • Keep as close as possible to the regular wake-up time on your days off/weekends

  • A regular wake-up time may be the most powerful signal we can use to set our internal clock and organize our sleep-wake body rhythm

Put the bedroom clock out of sight

  • Many persons with insomnia have a love-hate relationship with their clocks

  • Watching the clock puts unnecessary pressure on people with insomnia

  • Get rid of the clocks in your bedroom or turn them around so you can't see them during the night

To nap or not to nap?

  • Avoid napping; naps can disrupt your natural sleep-wake rhythm and interfere with nighttime sleep

  • Morning and evening naps are not beneficial because they may interfere with your natural sleep-wake rhythm

  • If you must nap, the guidelines for napping are:

    • Nap only once each day

    • Nap only in your bed

    • Schedule your nap 7 to 9 hours after your morning wake up time to coincide with natural shifts in your internal clock and sleep drive

    • Nap for only 15 to 30 minutes. Try to nap at the same time each day.

    • If you cannot fall asleep when you lay down to nap, get out of bed, you probably don't need a nap