I always review sleep hygiene when I see patients with insomnia, a very common complaint. While following these guidelines does not always solve the problem, it's a good start:
- Only use the bedroom for sleeping and sex. No television, studying or working on the computer.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time seven days a week. If you go to bed late, still get up at your usual time. Always use an alarm.
- No napping or lying horizontally (e.g. while watching television or reading) during the day.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
- Exercise daily. If an evening workout keeps you awake, change it to a morning routine.
- Keep the bedroom cool, dark and quiet. Install blinds and use ear plugs if necessary.
- Turn the clock face away from you. Seeing the time can cause an emotional reaction that is not conducive to sleep.
- Warm milk and a light carbohydrate snack before bed can promote sleep.
- Get in the habit of doing a restful activity (reading, a warm bath) before going to bed.
- If you cannot sleep after 20 minutes, get up, leave the room, and do a restful activity until you begin to feel sleepy. Reattempt sleep. Repeat.
*Based on Dr. J. Fleming's recommendations in the "Insomnia" chapter of Therapeutic Choices, Fifth Edition