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Sleep Hygiene




Stimulus control therapy is a research based treatment for insomnia. It is designed to help you establish a consistent sleep-wake cycle, strengthen the association between the bedroom, sleep time and sleepiness, and weaken the association between the bedroom and wakefulness. Below are some rules for better sleep that you can try to help improve your sleep hygiene. Other important factors include getting regular exercise, eating well, managing anxiety and stress, and avoiding excessive amounts of caffiene (particularly after noon). Make sure your room is comfortable, cooler and quiet. Soft ambient noise can also help such as relaxation music and white noise.


There are no hard and fast rules for how much sleep is adequate but if you are excessively sleepy and find it hard to function during the day, you are probably sleep deprived. Insomnia is defined as:


  • Challenges falling asleep (onset insomnia): inability to fall asleep beyond 20-30 minutes

  • Inability to maintain sleep (middle insomnia): frequent waking during the night after sleep onset beyond 20-30 minutes, and difficulty returning to sleep after mid-night waking

  • Early-morning wakefulness (late insomnia): waking at least 30 minutes before the desired time and before sleep reaches 6.5 hours (often accompanied by an inability to resume sleep at all)


Rules for better sleep:

  1. Lie down to go to sleep only when you are sleepy.

  2. Do not use the bed for anything but sleeping and sex. Some relaxed reading or watching TV is usually fine as well depending on whether this affects your sleepiness.

  3. If you cannot fall asleep after 10-20 minutes, get up, go somewhere quiet and comfortable, and do something relaxing until you are sleepy again.

  4. Follow the same bedtime rituals to signal to your body that it is time to get sleepy (e.g., brushing teeth, putting PJs on, having a shower, having a herbal tea, etc).

  5. Create a relaxing bedtime routine that promotes sleepiness (rather than exciting activities such as gaming that promote adrenalin and wakefulness).

  6. Finish eating approximately 2 hours before bedtime.

  7. Exercise regularly, preferably daily.

  8. Avoid caffeine completely or at least after noon.

  9. DO NOT NAP during the day. This may seem like a good idea to catch up on sleep but it will make you less sleepy at bedtime.

  10. Try not to look at the clock and if possible remove it altogether from the bedroom. Looking at it will only make you stress about how much sleep you aren't getting and increase stress hormones not conducive to sleep.

  11. Do a distracting activity if you are worrying at bedtime or write those worries down and put them away somewhere. There is probably nothing you can do about them right now.

  12. Wake up at the same time each day regardless of how much you have slept. This will increase the chances of sleepiness at bedtime. If you sleep in to compensate you are changing your sleep-wake rythm.

  13. Follow the same patterns on weekends as well.

  14. If there is concern after following these rules, consult your GP and a psychologist. There may be some medical factors that need to be considered such as sleep apnea and better management of anxiety, stress, and sleep may need to be put in place.

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