Sleep hygiene: How to prepare yourself for a good night's rest

Here are 17 tips you can use for day and night to help you get the sleep you need.

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Simulate dawn Instead of using an alarm clock, which interrupts the sleep cycle, the Mayo Clinic advises using a dawn simulator, a bedside device that emits light to mimic the rising of the sun.

Get some natural light Sunlight regulates and resets our circadian clocks, triggering the body to release chemicals and hormones.

Take breaks A few times a day, find a quiet place with dim lighting and take five minutes to calm your mind and focus on your breathing.

Eliminate caffeine The effects of the stimulant — found in coffee, many sodas, chocolate and teas — can last up to seven hours, and even small doses can block sleep neurotransmitters.

Exercise Regular exercise can ward off insomnia by working off stress and signalling the body to enter deeper sleep. But do it four to six hours before bedtime, because physical stimulation can make falling asleep harder.

Eat early The digestive system peaks at lunchtime, so it’s best to consume most of the day’s food by then. Keep dinner small, and eat it at least three hours before going to bed.


Keep a regular bedtime Early to bed, early to rise is best. That includes weekends.

Put closure on your workday Write down a list of work-related things you did and what you need to do tomorrow.

Power down An hour before bed, ultraturn off the TV, the computer and all other electronic devices.

Don’t drink alcohol at night While its sedating effect can make it easier to fall sleep, it tends to cause waking during the night and impair sleep quality.

Pop a supplement Instead of sleeping pills, experts suggest calming herbs and nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, amino acids, L theanine, taurine and GABA, lemon balm, passion flower, chamomile, magnolia and valerian root. A small dose of melatonin can also help.

Block out noise Use earplugs, a fan or a ‘white noise’ device.

Lower the thermostat A lower temperature signals the brain that it’s nighttime. The ideal sleeping temperature is 60 to 65 degrees.

Don’t expect instant slumber Studies show it takes an average of 22 minutes to fall asleep. If you drift off within five minutes, you are likely sleep-deprived.

Keep the bedroom pitch dark The body needs complete darkness to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. Use dark shades on windows and turn off or remove any devices with indicator lights, like alarm clocks. Otherwise, wear an eye mask.

Put yourself to sleep Forget sheep. Michael Breus (a.k.a. ‘the Sleep Doctor’) suggests imagining a soothing scene, an astronaut on a space walk or your thoughts as bursting bubbles. Or try spelling long words or counting backward from 1,000 in groups of seven.

Keep a sleep log For two weeks, write down your bed and wake times. If it appears that you’re sleeping enough hours, the problem is likely the quality of the sleep you’re getting, and may require a doctor’s advice.