Having Trouble Sleeping? Try the ABCs of Good Sleep
Our behaviors, rituals or norms we follow before bedtime are known as our sleep hygiene. Improving sleep hygiene should be the first thing to try when sleep troubles show up. Good bedtime habits can make sure you are getting higher-quality, more restful sleep for an adequate time each night. Here are the ABCs that can help you remember how to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Avoid alcohol 4 hours before bedtime (interferes with quality of sleep).
- Avoid caffeine 4 hours before bedtime (coffee, tea, many soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, some medications).
- Avoid nicotine 4 hours before bedtime (cigarettes, e-cigs).
- Avoid eating a full meal close to bedtime.
- Avoid electronics (any screen activity) at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine that helps you relax and prepare to sleep.
- Keep your sleep/wake times consistent.
- Quiet and comfortable bedroom (white noise or dim light if needed).
- If not asleep in 30 minutes, get out of bed and sit in a chair and listen to music or read until feeling sleepy.
If you are following good sleep hygiene and still can't sleep, consider the following:
- Stress: address sources of stress or conflict during the day to problem-solve or improve your coping strategies.
- Sleep apnea: talk to your health care provider if you snore and repeatedly wake up during the night or if your bed partner notices you seem to stop breathing during the night.
- Mood or anxiety disorder: talk to your health care provider if you have sleep disturbance along with sadness, irritability, anxiety, changes in appetite or changes in concentration lasting for weeks at a time.
Maintaining good sleep hygiene on a nightly basis is key to getting restful sleep and being more alert and awake during the day. Restful sleep is a great strategy for maintaining overall health and wellness.
About the Author
Kim Hoover, MD is board certified in psychiatry and child/adolescent psychiatry. She practices at Cone Health Outpatient Behavioral Health at Kernersville