It seems like it should be simple enough to get a good night’s sleep, but you are not alone if you sometimes have difficulty getting enough rest.

Good “sleep hygiene” is an underappreciated factor in managing mood, stress, energy, concentration, appetite, and overall functioning. Consider the following tips and links to improve this very important part of your life.

First steps

  • Try to go to bed and get up at the same times every day—even on the weekends.
  • Avoid napping, even if you are tired. If you must, keep naps to less than 30 minutes.
  • Develop a “sleep ritual” before bedtime: a series of steps you take to get yourself ready for bed. Shut down blue screens (your brain thinks the sun is coming up) and decrease activity 30-45 minutes before you want to go to sleep. Some apps such as TikTok allow you to limit your screen time so you’ll be less tempted to stay up late scrolling. Take some deep breaths to help yourself relax.
  • Don’t stay in bed trying to sleep if you find yourself tossing and turning. If you are unable to fall asleep after 20-30 minutes in bed, get up and engage in some relaxing activity (such as reading a book, sitting in a comfortable chair, having a cup of herbal tea, etc.), then get back into bed when you are sleepy. Repeat as often as necessary.
  • Use deep relaxation techniques to relax your body and mind. Try progressively tensing and then relaxing each muscle group, from your toes to your scalp.

Nutrition and Exercise

  • Reduce caffeine intake as much as possible. Remember to check your drink labels if you’re not sure about caffeine content. Consider consuming no caffeine after noon.
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime, as they interfere with normal sleep patterns.
  • Being physically tired is the best path to good sleep. Try to get some aerobic exercise during the day. Walking counts!

Work on your sleep environment

  • Eliminate non-sleep and non-sex activities from your bed, to strengthen the conditioned association between bed and sleeping. Reading relaxing materials in bed can be okay.
  • Your bedroom should be quiet and relaxing. Try earplugs if you can’t control noise. A room that is too warm or too cold can interfere with sleep. Try to keep your room temperature between 60-70 degrees. Use a fan for a hot room if air conditioning is unavailable. They also create “white noise,” which many find helpful for sleep.