Sleep Hygiene Tips

by Jess Shatkin

No, there is no “magic bullet” to make you instantly start to sleep better. Sorry. But, if you put a few of these tips into practice, you’ll find, over time, that your quality of sleep (and therefore, your productivity when you’re awake!) has greatly improved.

Taking a brief nap (20-30 minutes) can improve your memory, cardiovascular and neuro-cognitive functioning. 

  • If you’re feeling a little sluggish or slow-minded, turn off the lights and close your eyes for half an hour. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes!
  • If you cannot wake yourself up after 30 minutes, don’t go to sleep! A longer nap will actually disrupt your sleep schedule and make it more difficult to go to bed that night. Also, a nap should not be taken within four hours of bedtime – it will interfere with falling asleep! 

8-9 hours, no matter what.

  • Although you may feel well-rested after fewer hours of sleep, you’re not. Almost nobody is a “short-sleeper,” so if you’re getting less than 9 hours of sleep a night, you’re stocking up on some serious sleep debt. This prevents you from maintaining a better mood, increased concentration, and having more energy.

Your core body temperature at night greatly affects how well you sleep. The trick? Stay cool!

  • Don’t do anything before bed that increases your core body temp, such as:
    • Taking a long, hot shower or bath
    • Eating a spicy meal
    • Sleeping under electric blankets
    • Exercising within 2 – 3 hours before bed
  • To help yourself stay cool, or cool down, before bed, consider doing one of these things:
    • Taking a brief hot shower or bath (5 minutes of less) within an hour of bed
    • Taking a longer shower or bath (15+ minutes) two or more hours before bed (both of these things promote more rapid cooling of your core body temp)
    • Wearing socks to bed

Avoid caffeine for AT LEAST 6 hours before bed. 

  • Just do it. 

Alcohol and marijuana interfere with necessary stages of sleep, causing us to feel less attentive, less motivated, and more forgetful the following day. Don’t go to sleep drunk. Don’t go to sleep stoned. 

Try progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing to help calm you down before bed. 

  • You need to practice before you need it.

Take out any and all external stimuli in bedroom. No phones, bright clocks, laptops, nightlights, etc., that might bother you throughout the night. 

Don’t worry about it! 

  • If you’re having trouble falling asleep because you’re feeling anxious about the amount of sleep you need to get, try to relax. Yes, you’re not asleep right now, which can seem like the end of the world, but in reality, it’s not going to kill you to miss out on a little sleep. No human ever died from lack of sleep.  You’ll still be an incredibly high-functioning person the next day, and people will treat you the same way. Try to think about something else, focus on your breath, or distract yourself from ruminating on the next day.