Sleep Hygiene Tips and Techniques (For Adults and Teens)

Do you want to sleep better?

In this article, you’ll find 60 tips and recommendations to improve your sleep hygiene and wake up rested and energized.

¿How do I know if my sleep hygiene is poor?

Consistent trouble sleeping and daytime sleepiness are common signs of poor sleep hygiene.[1]

☞ However, keep in mind that poor sleep can also be a result of numerous factors. The tips that follow are for people who have trouble sleeping due to poor sleep hygiene, not for people with medical conditions. Please consult with your physician.

About the timeline

We have compiled all the tips into a handy timeline so you can easily keep track of each one. Of course, times are approximate and you don’t have to follow each and every one of them, although these tips do usually work best when done together.

🗓️ The sleep hygiene timeline

☀️ Sleeping time -12h

Spend time in natural light during the day. Light helps the body produce melatonin, which is a hormone that promotes sleep. Getting some natural light will also help keep your inner clock in tune with daytime and nighttime.

☕ Sleeping time -6h

Do not consume exciting substances such as coffee, non-herbal tea, or nicotine during the evening.

  • Of course, no alcohol either. Alcohol is a depressant and, while it might initially make you sleepy, that sleep won’t be restful. Actually, you might wake up feeling even more tired than when you went to sleep.
  • The effects of caffeine on some people can last up to 12 hours.
  • If you want to relax with a warm beverage before bed, try with warm milk or a theine-free infusion.
  • In any case, avoid excessive fluid intake before bed so a full bladder does not interrupt your sleep.

🛌 Sleeping time -4h

No naps after 12 hours since your previous sleep. Ie, say you woke up at 7am; in that case, you shouldn’t be napping passed 7pm.

  • Also, make sure your siesta does not last longer than 20 minutes.

📵 Sleeping time -3h

If you’re having trouble sleeping, avoid exposure to bright lights after sundown. That includes phone, tablet, and laptop screens.

  • The blue light from electronic screens will keep you awake, so if you must absolutely make use of them, install first an app like f.lux (a freeware available for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS).
    • f.lux makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day: warm at night and like sunlight during the day; in sync with your circadian rhythm.
  • LED smart bulbs like the Philips Color Ambiance (Amazon) are also pretty useful for that. Most of them can be controlled via Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Alexa, and linked to f.lux so the lighting in your bedroom matches its settings.

🏋️ Sleeping time -2h

Do not exercise 2 hours prior to going to bed. Exercise regularly, but do it in the morning or early afternoon. Physical exercise will energize you.

🍎 Sleeping time -2h

Wait a couple hours before going to sleep after having dinner. And keep it light; you shouldn’t go to sleep feeling full (or hungry).

🛀 Sleeping time -1h

Start a relaxing, pre-bed routine. Meditate, do breathing exercises, take a warm bath (1 or 2 hours before bed), put on your pajamas, wash your teeth, choose your clothes for the next day… If you maintain a routine, your body will “know” when bedtime is approaching and will start preparing for it.

🕚 Sleeping time -15min

Go to sleep every night at the same time (if possible, even on weekends). Once your body gets used to it, you’ll start getting sleepy when it’s time for bed. Don’t ignore it.

  • On average, humans take ~15 minutes to fall asleep.

💤 Sleeping time

📖 Sleeping time +20 min.

If you haven’t fallen asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed (and out of the bedroom) and go do something relaxing and/or boring, like reading or listening to soft music, until you feel sleepy.

  • Don’t look at the clock. It’ll just make you more anxious about not being able to fall asleep. That, in turn, will make falling asleep even harder.

⏰ Sleeping time +8h

Try to get up every day at the same time (yes, even weekends). Usually, adult humans need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day (8 to 10 in the case of teens). However, everyone is different. Some people might wake up fully rested after just 6 hours of sleep (even if this is not very common).

  • Avoid trying to make up for lost sleep by sleeping in.

🛌 The bedroom

Infographic about how your bedroom can help you improve your sleep hygiene

  1. Use your bed only for sleep (and sex).
    • Some people love to partake in a wide array of activities while in bed. From working to watching tv, to reading. However, you have to make your brain associate the bed with sleep. Even better, make it realize that once you cross the threshold of your bedroom, it’s sleepy time.
      1. You can still read and relax before bed, just try not to do it while actually in bed.
    • Do try to always sleep in a bed. Even if you’re just going to take a (20-minute tops) nap. It’ll reinforce the idea that sleep = bed.
    • “Only for sleep” also includes worrying. No worrying in bed. I know it’s tempting to relive in excruciating detail all the times you’ve made a fool of yourself in the last 15 years, but please, refrain to do so while trying to sleep. It’ll just make you anxious and keep you awake.
    • Don’t share your bed with children or pets. Parents sleeping with young children or pets sleep less and have more disrupted sleep.[1]
  2. Keep your bedroom cool and well-ventilated. Most experts agree that the ideal room temperature should be between 64ºF (18ºC) and 71ºF (22ºC).
    • Warm hands and feet are important to fall asleep. If your extremities tend to get cold, wear socks or use a hot water bottle.
  3. Keep your bedroom dark.
    • Consider acquiring blackout blinds or curtains, or even a sleep mask, if you haven’t already.
  4. Sleep in a quiet environment. Sometimes, even the ticking of a clock can keep you awake.
    • Ear plugs can be quite helpful when noises are unavoidable.
    • Some people find it easier to fall asleep when white noise, relaxing music, or nature sounds are playing softly in the background.
  5. Bed, pillow, sheets, pajamas… Everything that surrounds you should be comfortable. No need in keeping a strict sleep hygiene regime if, at the end of the day, your pillow is hard and flat, and your pajamas are scratchy.
  6. Paint your bedroom in relaxing colors, like blue.
  7. Avoid unfamiliar environments. Not only will it be harder to fall asleep in a bed that is not yours, but the quality of your sleep will also be worse.

 


📓 Sources

  1. UC Denver – Sleep Hygiene PDF
  2. Mayo Clinic – How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?

Last updated on June, 2019.