Improve your sleep hygiene

Mental Health Brief #5

Improve your sleep hygiene

Good sleep hygiene involves routines or habits that promote more restful and restorative sleep. Here is a brief guide to good sleep hygiene:

  • Go to bed and get up at around the same time every day—including weekends.
  • Don’t take naps. Napping disrupts the sleep-wake cycle, particularly if the nap occurs more than 10 hours after a long sleep. If you must nap, limit its length to 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal or greasy, spicy or sugary foods just before bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly but not too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) six to eight hours before going to bed. When we’re tired, many of us rely on coffee to keep us going. While caffeine is a stimulant, it also stays in the body for three to five hours. It can affect some people for up to 12 hours.
  • Don’t take your worries to bed with you. Manage your stress in a healthy way. For example, meditating, deep breathing, yoga, or tai chi. Or hit the gym on your way home from work.
  • Avoid nicotine (e.g. cigarettes, tobacco products). Nicotine is also a stimulant and, if used too close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep. When smokers go to sleep, they experience withdrawal symptoms that can further disrupt their sleep.
  • Don’t drink alcohol close to bedtime. Although many people think of alcohol as a sedative and indulge in a “nightcap”, it actually disrupts sleep.

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The Opening Remarks mental health briefs provide Ontario lawyers with wellness tips and resources from a variety of individuals speaking in their own capacity. The briefs are not a substitute for professional care. If you are in crisis, we encourage you to urgently contact a mental health service provider.