Sleepless Night: Improve Sleep Hygiene | Move Harmoniously
Updated: May 20
Assessing sleep hygiene is important to determine whether an individual has inadequate sleep hygiene disorder. Clinicians assess the sleep hygiene of people who present with insomnia and other conditions, such as depression, and offer recommendations based on the assessment.
Sleep hygiene recommendations include establishing a regular sleep schedule, using naps with care, not exercising physically or mentally too close to bedtime, limiting worry, limiting exposure to light in the hours before sleep, getting out of bed if sleep does not come, not using bed for anything but sleep and sex, avoiding alcohol as well as nicotine, caffeine, and other stimulants in the hours before bedtime, and having a peaceful, comfortable and dark sleep environment.
Arranging a sleep environment that is quiet, very dark, and cool is recommended. Noises, light, and uncomfortable temperatures have been shown to disrupt continuous sleep. Other recommendations that are frequently made, though less studied, include selecting comfortable mattresses, bedding, and pillows, and eliminating a visible bedroom clock, to prevent focusing on time passing when trying to fall asleep.
One set of recommendations relates to the timing of sleep. For adults, getting less than 7–8 hours of sleep is associated with a number of physical and mental health deficits, and therefore a top sleep hygiene recommendation is allowing enough time for sleep.
Exercise is an activity that can facilitate or inhibit sleep quality; people who exercise experience better quality of sleep than those who do not, but exercising too late in the day can be activating and delay falling asleep. Increasing exposure to bright and natural light during the daytime and avoiding bright light in the hours before bedtime may help promote a sleep-wake schedule aligned with nature's daily light-dark cycle.