Sleep Hygiene Techniques: Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits

Sleep hygiene techniques are effective methods that help you deal with a variety of different sleeping problems.

They are essentially a range of mindful lifestyle choices and healthy sleeping habits that will have a substantial effect on the quality of sleep you receive.

The action you want to take here is to remove the bad habits while replacing them with good habits.

Cleaning up your sleeping habits.

Are Sleep Hygiene Techniques Something That Will Help Me Sleep Better At Night?

The answer to that question is yes. Sleep hygiene techniques are very effective. However, in order to receive all the benefits you have to put in the effort on a consistent basis.

Think of sleep hygiene techniques as gears in a machine with each individual part having a different piece of advice to examine.

Once these individual parts come together, you will be able to see how these advice tips work together to function as one machine that will help you receive a better night’s sleep.

Each technique varies in the time it takes for it to be effective. For example, going to sleep and waking up at the same time everyday can take roughly one to two weeks to restore.

The important take away is to stick with the technique, do not quit in the early stages and to give the technique enough time to work.

These are 20  techniques that you will find helpful:

1. Prioritize sleep as an important portion of your day

It should come as no surprise to you that we sacrifice important sleep time with other activities. However, if you struggle with insomnia it should come to reason that you need to change the way you view about how important sleep is to your health.

This needs to be a part of the day that has no interruptions of any kind. You need to protect this part of the day. Sleep needs to be valued just as highly as nutrition and exercise. They work together to keep you healthy and functioning properly.

2. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday

This is one of the most effective techniques to improving your sleep patterns. At first, it might seem as though restoring your internal biological clock is a daunting task.

Rest assured (no pun intended) that your biological clock has a pattern of consistency letting you know when to feel sleepy and when to wake up. You can work with it and adjust it over a period of one to two weeks.

The thing keep in mind is always wake up at the same time everyday even if you do not go to sleep at the same time.

If your sleep schedule is out of its normal rhythm, you will find it to your advantage to read more about how to adjust your sleep schedule in the article below.

How To Adjust Your Sleep Patterns? – Resetting Your Sleep Patterns 

3. Do not lay in your bed if you cannot sleep

It is a terrible feeling to lie in your bed tossing and turning while watching the clock move slowly. This has happened to me before and it is not fun.  This will only cause you to  become more stressed.

This is an excellent indicator that you should only go to sleep when you feel tired.

Typically, it should only take twenty minutes to half an hour to be asleep. If you are still awake after this time period it will be better for you to get out of bed for a little while and then attempt to go back to sleep later.

Sleep hygiene banner.

While you are awake during this time, I recommend that you practice some of the bedtime routine habits in the next section.

4. Establish a relaxing night time routine

One of the causes of sleep problems for many people is an incredibly busy thought pattern in the brain. It can feel as though your mind has hit the turbo all the way up until you reach your scheduled bedtime.

Even when you try to unwind, your brain finds a way to stir up thoughts, concerns, and worries.

Schedule a period of time before you go to sleep. You should do something relaxing, this will give your mind a way to calm down and conclude a busy day.

This article explains more about night routine for adults.

5. Practice relaxation techniques

You can benefit greatly if you practice some relaxation techniques before going to sleep. The great thing about these techniques is that they also can be performed throughout the day.

These are a few techniques that you should try out:

  1. Guided Meditation
  2. The 4-7-8 Yoga Breathing Technique
  3. Deep Breathing
  4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

If you find yourself unable to turn your mind off during the evening. These techniques are very effective because they divert your attention away from an overactive mind.

To learn more about relaxation techniques, click on this article below:

5 Relaxation Techniques For Sleep: Quieting Your Overactive Mind

6. Reserve your bedroom for relaxation and sleep only

This technique will condition your mind with only these two activities: relaxation and sleep. Only choose relaxing low stimulating analog activities such as reading.

7. Create a comfortable environment for sleeping

Your bed, bedding and bedroom make a difference on how you sleep. Examine the following ideas and see how many of these ideas you have already established:

  • Invest in the biggest bed that your budget will allow.
  • Keep your space clean, organized, and free of obstructions.
  • Prevent light from entering your bedroom by using blackout curtains. If blackout curtains are not your preference, a sleep mask is a great alternative.
  • Control the climate in your bedroom to ensure that it does not feel too cold or too hot. The best temperature for sleeping ranges from 16 to 21 degrees Celsius or 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cozy bedroom.

8. Select the correct mattress

Your mattress is the cornerstone of your bed. It is vital that you have a mattress that is not only comfortable, but supportive as well. Consider these points:

  1. Beds that have slats are ideal because they allow air to circulate underneath your mattress.
  2. When you lay on your back, you should have no issue sliding your hand between the mattress and your back.
  3. Your mattress should be large enough for you and your partner to fit comfortably on.
  4. Mattress should be replaced every 8 to 10 years.

If replacing your mattress is too costly, a great option would be a mattress topper. These are excellent because they can extend the life of an old mattress and there are different options such as cooling, heating, memory foam, and down type mattress toppers.

9. Select high quality pillows and bedding

Invest in the best quality bedding within your budget. If you have allergies use a hypoallergenic fabric and keep everything clean.

You should choose pillows and bedding that make you feel comfortable. In addition, some fabrics help manage your body temperature. The common types of fabrics are:

  • Polyester– inexpensive and not nearly as comfortable as the other materials, however it does last a long time.
  • Satin – has a nice feel, but is not very breathable.
  • Cotton – breathable, soft, and very durable. Keep an eye out for thread count. A thread count of 350 or greater will indicate that it is softer than pillows with a thread count of less than 350. The best ones are Pima, Egyptian, or Microcotton.
  • Silk– Excellent for those with allergies and works well during summer nights.

Pillows.

10. Insulate your bedroom from external noise

External noise such as loud trains, cars driving by, noisy neighbors, noises inside your home, and a snoring partner can all lead to restlessness. The good news is there are ways to dealing with such noisy disturbances:

  1. If you have someone in your home or a neighbor nearby making loud noises. Please calmly inform them to lower the volume. You deserve peace and quiet after a long hard day of working.
  2. Remember to check and turn off any noisy appliances. (An example would be a washing machine or a dryer located in another room)
  3. Put your headphones in and choose some relaxing music to listen to.
  4. If stopping the noise at the source does not work, a white noise machine or earplugs are devices that block out unwanted noise.

11. Do not use any electronic devices in your bedroom

It is recommended that you do not use electronic devices in your bedroom for the following reasons:

  1. Laptops, cellphones, tablets, and other electronic devices are addictive. These devices will make you continue watching videos, playing games, social media, text messaging and phone calls. This spells disaster if you are attempting to follow a structured sleep routine.
  2. Surfing the web and doing anything else online stimulates your mind and makes it more difficult for you to relax.
  3. The blue light that is emitted from the screen of your electronic devices mimics daylight and tricks your biological clock into thinking that it is still daytime, therefore your brain reduces amount of melatonin that is needed in order to help you feel drowsy and to go to sleep.
  4. You will lose precious sleep time that you need in order to function properly throughout the next day such as paying attention in school, your job and especially when operating any type of machinery.

12. Go outside and expose yourself to sunlight

Go for a walk outside on a sunny day. Sunlight regulates your biological clock and helps keep your brain in rhythm as to when there is daylight and when it is dark. As an added benefit, this is an excellent morale booster that will make you put you in a good mood and make you feel better.

Sunny day outdoors.

13. Exercise on a regular basis

This technique is a personal favorite of mine. Exercise is one if not the best method to exhaust your mind and body.

Strenuous exercise has been known to tire you out to the point that you want to hit the hay. It is also a natural remedy to anxiety and stress.

Metal weight disks.
Pumping Iron!

By relieving anxiety/stress through exercise your body and mind will be much more relaxed. This in turn will help you unwind from your daily activities.

14. Foods that you can eat before you go to sleep

While there is no scientific research that any specific foods will help you sleep better at night. Some foods are definitely better than others to eat before going to sleep.

This is a list of light snacks that are good for controlling hunger at night:

  • Low Fat Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Turkey
  • Cottage Cheese

Assorted nuts on table.

15. Foods that you should not eat before you go to sleep

The types of foods you eat have an impact on how you sleep. The old saying of “You are what you eat” holds true to how healthy your sleep patterns are as well.

These are important food tips that you should consider:

  • Consume your largest meal at lunchtime during the middle of the day. If that is not possible for you, have your dinner as early you can schedule it. It takes anywhere from six to eight hours for food to be digested. The important tip to take away from this bullet point is to not consume a large meal four to six hours before your scheduled bed time.
  • Avoid eating any fatty, fried, or spicy foods before going to sleep.
  • Eliminate any sugary foods later in the day.
  • Do not eat any foods that contain a lot of processed carbohydrates in the evening hours.

Fried foods.

16. Stay hydrated throughout the day

Drinking enough water throughout the day correlates to better sleep at night.

There are varying opinions on the amount of water that one should drink in order to stay hydrated. Factors such as your level of physical activity, body size, and age all have an impact on that amount.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink 2 liters of water a day.

Hydration.
Bottoms Up!

Also remember that eating fruits and certain vegetables all add up towards your daily hydration requirement throughout the day.

I personally eat a good amount of cantaloupe, pineapple and celery on a regular basis. These foods have a high water content and contribute to the amount of water I drink as well.

Pineapple.

In addition, if you drink carbonated water on a daily basis like I do that also counts towards your daily water requirement.

17. Do not drink beverages that contain caffeine in the evening

Every person is different in their caffeine tolerance while some people can drink caffeine in the evening and can go to sleep without any issue. Those with insomnia are not the type of people listed above.

If you are sensitive to caffeine, I recommend that you do not drink any drinks that contain caffeine because caffeine stays in your system for a long time. A normal 8 oz or 237 ml cup of coffee has 95mg of coffee.

It takes 45 to 60 minutes for 99 percent of the caffeine to be absorbed. The half-life is the time it takes for a substance to reduce its quantity by half its original amount. The half-life of caffeine is anywhere from four to six hours.

For example, if you drank one 8 oz cup of coffee at 7PM in the evening, you would receive 95mg of caffeine within or after the first hour.

Then four to six hours later at either 11PM, 12PM, or 1AM. You would still have 47.5 mg of caffeine remaining in your system that is keeping you alert at that time of the night.

Cup of coffee.

The following beverages are ones to avoid if you are sensitive to caffeine:

  1. Energy drinks such as Redbull, Monster, Rockstar, AMP, and NOS.
  2. Pepsi, Coca Cola, or any other beverages that contain a lot of sugar.
  3. Coffee.
  4. Decaffeinated coffee. (Surprisingly contains small amounts of caffeine)
  5. Green Tea.
  6. Oolong Tea.
  7. Black Tea.

A better option is to either drink water or herbal tea at night as both of these beverages do not contain caffeine. Herbal tea is an excellent choice because it contains ingredients such as chamomile, peppermint and valerian root to help promote relaxation.

Herbal tea bags.

18. Eliminate or reduce your alcohol consumption at night time

Whiskey on the rocks.

There are some people with insomnia that claim drinking alcohol helps them sleep faster at night. Some researchers have proven this to be true.

However, there are other researchers that have discovered that alcohol can throw off your REM sleep.

This can result with a sluggish feeling the following day.If you choose to consume alcohol during nighttime. I recommend that you limit yourself to a small amount.

19. Eliminate sleeping pills and take a note of the side effects

Sleeping pills are an option, but do not get into the habit of solely relying on them. There are rebound effects that happen when you stop taking them.

Take a note of any possible side effects on the label of the prescription bottle or you can consult a medical professional for more information.

Feeling restless and insomnia are side effects that can happen.

20. Eliminate smoking

Nicotine is not only addictive it is also a stimulant. Stimulants keep you awake preventing you from relaxing and falling asleep.

If you must smoke do not smoke one to two hours before your bedtime. This is another reason to quit smoking.

Your wallet and your health will thank you for that action.

Stop smoking sign.

Final Thoughts

Sleep hygiene techniques are effective in helping you deal with a variety of different sleeping problems. Everything from a noisy environment to using electronic devices late at night can cause disruptions to your sleep patterns.

The important steps to take are to be mindful of these disturbing sleep habits and to replace them with good habits that will benefit you. Changing habits takes time, however putting the effort on a consistent basis is what you should strive for.

Soon enough these good habits you practice everyday will become second nature.

Have you established any of these healthy habits?

Are there any habits that I did not cover in this article?

I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to share your comments.

Photo credit: Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash

10 Comments on “”

  1. Hello Dmassengill69,

    Your welcome and it is good to see you return. Sleeping problems are very common especially in the fast paced world that we live in. Yes, electronics devices generate blue light. This can cause our brains to reduce the amount of melatonin that is needed to help us fall asleep. You are not alone, it is common occurrence for many people to use their electronics all the way up until the time that they go to sleep. We live in a very connected and plugged in society. Unfortunately, this has a negative effect on sleep patterns. I wanted to share this list of healthy sleep habits so that others can make more mindful choices. That is great that you are taking my advice. You are moving in the right direction. I listen to meditation and biurnal beats music. Both of these types of music will help you go to sleep easier.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  2. Hello Steve,

    Gladly and you have the right mindset. Sleep is indeed an area of health that is very much underrated. This is an area that everybody knows about, but sometimes not taken seriously. Many people lose out on this important function due to being caught up with everything else. I wanted to educate others on good sleep habits so that they can make better choices in regards to their health. Since mobile electronic devices are so common nowadays. It makes it very difficult to unplug and to be present in the moment. There is always something on the next page that you can do. It is both a blessing and a curse at the same time. If you are waking up in the middle of the night. I recommend that you read a book by a soft yellow light, drink some herbal tea, walk around a little bit, practice deep breathing exercises and listen to some relaxing music. I also have written an article about relaxation techniques for sleep that you will find helpful.

    5 Relaxation Techniques For Sleep: Quieting Your Overactive Mind

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  3. Hello Fiona,

    There is no shame in looking at your phone in the evenings. This is a very common occurrence especially in the technology filled world that we live in today. If you are drinking black tea in the evenings. I recommend that you switch over to herbal tea. This type of tea has no caffeine and has a calming effect. This post is a guide to help point others in the right direction. There are certain things that we do everyday that have a substantial effect on how we sleep and the quality of sleep that we receive. I wanted to show others that there are good habits that you can incorporate into your night time routine. That is great that you are making an effort to improve your sleep habits. It is one of the best things you can do to sleep better at night.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  4. Hello again,

    I came back after reading your post on exploding head syndrome last time and gained a lot of helpful information. 

    I been having sleep problems for over 20 years and this post seems to be right on about many of the things that I either do not do or do wrong. I did not know that computers and other devices give off light that make your mind think it is daylight. That is one of many things that I am doing wrong. 

    I am going to try everything you listed in hopes of getting a better night’s sleep. 

    What music do you listen to for sleep? I have tried this, but have not found the right type to sleep to.

    Thank you for another great post.

  5. Thanks for your great article on sleep. I think it is one of the most neglected and underrated aspects of our every day lives. Sleep is so important to our health and daily function, yet it is often not treated this way. I think #11 is one of the hardest ones for people to do these days as everyone is so connected to their devices and social media has conditioned us to constantly check our phones. What advice do you have for someone who goes to sleep well, but wakes up in the middle of the night?

  6. I am a bit embarrassed to say that there are quite a few habits on your list that I should have, but do not. I am definitely guilty of looking at my phone in bed and I drink black tea in the evenings. I will definitely have to work on improving my habits so that I can get a good night’s rest (as much as possible with young kids anyways).

    Thanks for the great tips!

  7. Hello Bibian,

    Thank you for commenting. I am glad you enjoyed the content. Rest (no pun intended) assured that there are others out there that have issues with sleeping as well. That is interesting that you have tried other methods and had no success. If you are having issues going to sleep after showering and eating. My recommendation is to switch to lighter foods at night time, if you are thinking of your day’s work try recording your thoughts down on paper and then practice meditation. That always helps me out when I have a lot of thoughts racing around. My last recommendation is to turn off and do not use any electronic devices close to your scheduled bed time. These devices produce blue light and will keep you awake at night. Yes, routine habits for sleep/sleep hygiene techniques is something that most people are not aware of. I wanted to show others that the activities that you do at night do have an effect on not only your sleep patterns, but on the quality of sleep as well.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  8. Wow, this is lovely and also very informative. I enjoyed every bit of it. I really need help sleeping. I will try some of the methods you listed.
    However, I have also tried many other methods and they did not work perfectly. I normally feel so tired and sleepy when I return home from work. After my shower and eating, sleeping becomes a problem. I would either be thinking of my day’s work or I will be online with my phone. This usually goes on until midnight. It is now more like a routine and I think it is actually a problem.

  9. Hello Kevin,

    Currently, I do not have any recommendations for specific mattresses or pillow because everybody sleeps in a different way. Some people prefer softer mattresses while others prefer their mattresses more on the firm side. The same rule applies for pillows. Mattresses and pillows can vary as well if you are back sleeper, a side sleeper, or a stomach sleeper. The suggestion in the post was to help others consider if they were sleeping with mattresses and pillows that were not suited for their sleeping style. I do not recommend buying the mattresses on the youtube ads due to the fact that it could different from what you will need. Yes, if you go to your local mattress store they will help find one that suits your needs. Lastly, I recommend that you invest in high quality pillows that support your head and neck. I purchased a memory foam pillow a few years ago and since that day I have not had any neck sores. Those are no fun!

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  10. Do you have any recommendations for specific mattresses or pillows? I have been getting a lot of Youtube ads on mattresses that can be shipped right to my house. I was wondering. Are any of these are worth it? Should I go right to my local mattress store?
    Thanks!

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