Sleep Hygiene

Inability to sleep (insomnia) or Sleep Deprivation is one of the leading cause of stress. Some of the important, identifiable & preventable, reasons are

  • Delaying going to bed till late; ensure adequate time in bed, free from interruptions and demands.

  • Taking Laptop/Smart phone to bed thinking let me work till I feel sleepy. The bed is to be used for sleep and sex (at times) but NOT for reading, watching television, working on a laptop or other activities that keep one awake.


Sleep Hygiene is a new term doing rounds of wellness initiatives and refers to controlling of all behavioral and environmental factors that precede sleep and may be a cause of interfering with one’s sleep. Just as Hygiene refers to the practice of following guidelines to ensure freedom from preventable infections; sleep hygiene is the practice of following guidelines trying to ensure more restful and effective sleep which will, for sure, promote daytime alertness and productivity.

Sleep Deprivation

Tips to Sleep Well and Sleep Hygiene:

  • Try and keep regular sleep habits! Avoid going to bed after midnight unless you have been attending to an emergency or are working shifts.

  • Go to bed prepared to sleep!

  • Avoid vigorous exercise shortly before going to bed as it slows our body’s ability to fall asleep.

  • Exercising several (3-4) hours before retiring has been shown to be helpful.

  • Do not allow yourself to doze off while reading or watching television prior to bedtime. Even short episodes of sleep will interfere with subsequent sleep.

  • Do not allow yourself to lie in bed worrying about problems or challenges of the upcoming day. Sit with a paper and pen and jot them down, instead.

  • Learn to associate your bed with relaxation and not with activities that are likely to keep you alert for long periods.

  • Avoid large meals and excessive fluid intake that provoke poor sleep, indigestion, heartburn or frequent waking up to urinate.

  • Bedtime snacks should be small and non-spicy foods with sleep inducing potential. Eg. a glass of warm milk (high in tryptophan induce sleepiness). Also taking Apples before bedtime may increase sleepiness and ability to doze off promptly.

  • Caffeine and smoking prior to retiring will worsen one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Warm baths (not showers) prior to bedtime truly can prove helpful! Similarly, engaging in relaxing, calming and soothing activities eg. listening to music may also help.

  • Ensure a quiet and comfortable environment. Be sure that the mattress is adequately firm and comfortable.

  • Avoid oversleeping and lying in the bed for prolonged periods after your sleep is completed.

  • You should wake up refreshed in the morning without the use of an alarm clock and feel energetic all day.

Remember, sleep is neither ‘dispensable’ nor an option! Protect your need and right to sleep!


5 Responses

  1. Malini Menon
    Malini Menon August 21, 2014 at 10:24 pm | | Reply

    Dear Dr Sushma
    You may not remember me. I met you when you had come to cochin. Tell me how do we help a very disturbed person sleep? I work with victims of domestic violence.

    1. Dr Sushma Jaiswal
      Dr Sushma Jaiswal August 22, 2014 at 5:32 pm | | Reply

      Dear Malini,
      Thanks for writing in….your query says it all, the disturbed sleep clearly in the individuals you are working with is one of the impact of domestic abuse/violence and can be categorized as psychological stressors causing difficulty in sleep and disturbing the quality of sleep as well. And you would know the success in helping such individuals would be a combination of different approaches.

      Since the root of the problem lies in the psychological stressors only if these triggers are addressed will the good sleep pattern get instilled eventually.

      Primarily in such individuals what helps is making them follow pre-sleep ritual over a period could be ranging from 10 mins to an hour. Different people find solace in different patterns some find relief in making a list of all the stressors and plan to deal with them. These needs to be combined with a period of relaxation (reading, meditation, hot bath).

  2. Rohini
    Rohini August 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm | | Reply

    This is so informative and very well written.

    1. Dr Sushma
      Dr Sushma September 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm | | Reply

      Thanks Rohini. Readers feedback is valuable and always motivates to write more….

  3. drbhavini
    drbhavini May 31, 2015 at 5:06 pm | | Reply

    Very good article. Very useful in this world where people are unable to go to bed without cell phones.

Please comment with your real name using good manners.

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