Strengthen Sleeping Habits: 12 Steps to Sound Slumber

Woman in bed looking at clock

1 in 3 adults does not get enough sleep, according to the CDC. Are you 1 in 3?

In August 2017, Dr. Steve Kay, a professor of neurology at USC, discussed the effects of technology on sleeping patterns. 

Dr. Kay said, “Looking at tablets or smartphones can actually cause significant sleep disruption. When your eye is exposed to blue light, your brain suppresses the production of melatonin – the hormone production our brain produces at night normally rises in the evening, peaks at midnight and then goes back down.” 

The presence of any artificial light at night can potentially damage your sleep cycle, but the blue light has been proven to be the most disruptive. Putting your phone on night mode will diminish the blue light to a softer pink light. This may help you to fall asleep easier. 

Not enough sleep, or even too much, may cause:

  • obesity
  • mood disorders
  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • lower your life expectancy.

Also, the National Sleep Foundation researched in 2006 that only 20% of adolescents get the recommended nine hours of sleep on school nights, and 45% sleep less than eight hours on school nights.

Two consecutive nights of less than six hours could leave you sluggish for the following six days. Researchers also found that staying up an extra hour, even if followed by a full night’s sleep, is correlated with a slower performance the next day. – Standford Medicine

The Following May Help Sleeping Habits

#1 Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep

Avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and some pain relievers) for four to six hours before bedtime. Similarly, smokers should refrain from using tobacco products within 3 hours of bedtime. It is best to limit alcohol consumption, and especially to avoid drinking within 3 hours of bedtime.

#2 Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment

A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound slumber. Lower the outside noise with earplugs or a “white noise” appliance. Keep the temperature between 60 and 75°F and the room well ventilated. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows. (Remember that most mattresses wear out after ten years.) If a pet regularly wakes you during the night, you may want to consider keeping it out of your bedroom. Keeping technology and work material out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.

#3 Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine

Ease the transition to bedtime with relaxing activities an hour or so before sleeping. Take a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness), read a book, watch television, or practice relaxation exercises. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities like doing work, discussing emotional issues. Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness. If you tend to take your problems to bed, try writing them down—and then putting them aside.

#4 Go to Sleep When You’re Truly Tired

#5 Don’t Watch the Clock; Turn the Light Away

#6 Use Light to Your Advantage (When possible, follow the natural light to help your internal clock’s sleep-wake cycle) 

#7 Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule

#8 Nap Early—Or Not at All (If napping, keep it about 30 minutes and before 5 p.m.) 

#9 Don’t Eat Before Sleeping   Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause indigestion. If you get hungry at night, snack on foods that won’t disturb your sleep, perhaps dairy foods and carbohydrates.

#10 Balance Fluid Intake (Avoid waking up thirsty and night-time bathroom trips)

#11 Exercise Early (Exercise at least three hours before bed or earlier)

#12 Follow Through

Some of these tips will be easier to include in your daily and nightly routine than others. However, if you stick with them, your chances of achieving restful sleep will improve. That said, not all sleep problems are so easily treated and could signify the presence of a sleep disorder such as apnearestless legs syndromenarcolepsy, or another clinical sleep problem. If your sleep difficulties don’t improve through good sleep, you may want to consult your physician or a sleep specialist.

If you are interested, we, at Madison Memorial Hospital, have a sleep lab.

Go to to schedule your appointment.



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