Sleep hygiene just sounds like something out of a middle school health class video, but it is not as dirty as you think! Sleep hygiene just means just some ground rules on what to do before sleeping. Just like how Harry Potter learned, in Occlumency class, to scrub his brain before going to sleep, there are a few more things we non-magical types have to do as well, but not as scary! Here is a really quick checklist to go through if you are having problems sleeping. The following are recommended for good sleep hygiene:
- Sleep as long as necessary to feel rested (usually seven to eight hours for adults) and then get out of bed
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule, particularly a regular wake-up time in the morning
- Try not to force sleep
- Avoid caffeinated beverages after lunch
- Avoid alcohol near bedtime (late afternoon and evening)
- Avoid smoking or other nicotine intake, particularly during the evening
- Do not go to bed hungry
- Adjust the bedroom environment as needed to decrease stimuli (reduce ambient light, turn off the television or radio)
- Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens (laptops, tablets, smartphones, ebooks) before bedtime
- Resolve concerns or worries before bedtime
- Exercise regularly for at least 20 minutes, preferably more than four to five hours prior to bedtime
- Avoid daytime naps, especially if they are longer than 20 to 30 minutes or occur late in the day
There are pharmacologic agents that can be prescribed for only short-term benefits. There are many herbal remedies that can help with sleep, chamomile tea or lavender oils. But the sleep hygiene of a patient should really be explored to get to the root of the problem. Hopefully you can have a thorough discussion with your doctor or you can come talk to me, Dr. Strong!
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