Sleep hygiene includes the behaviors and environmental factors needed for healthy sleep. Good sleep hygiene includes:
- Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends
- Eliminate or reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, especially in the hours before bed
- The peak level of caffeine is within 30-60 minutes
- The effects from caffeine can last between 8-14 HOURS!
- Exercise daily, but not right before bed
- Check out some of the activities available at Recreation and Sports Facilities
- Spend time outside every day
- If you nap, limit it to 30 minutes and avoid them in the late afternoon
- Only use the bedroom for sleep and sex
- Turn down bright lights in the evening
- Don't eat before bed
- Turn off all screens 30-40 minutes before bed
- This includes cell phone, TV, and laptop! The lights and sounds stimulate your brain to stay awake.
- Get a comfortable bed when possible
- Don't sit and worry about your day
- Make the room as comfortable as possible
- Consider blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, a white noise machine, or a fan
Soothing music facilitates relaxation by decreasing sympathetic
arousal, decreasing the stress response, and providing a distraction from your
thoughts. Listening for even 20-50 minutes before bed can improve sleep. It can
be done alone or along with other relaxation techniques.
Music should be:
- Something that you consider relaxing
- A consistent volume throughout the song
- Played quieter than your usual volume
The best timing for the bright light therapy depends on the sleep problem.
- Wake up too early and can't fall back asleep? Evening bright light therapy can be effective to delay the sleep-wake cycle.
- Wake up in the morning still feeling tired? Morning bright light therapy can help increase alertness.
Most OTC sleep aid medications contain antihistamines. Examples include diphenhydramine and doxylamine. Below are some of the pros and cons of taking OTC sleep aids.
Pros of OTC sleep aid medications:
- Often fast and effective
- Help break a pattern of insomnia
Cons of OTC sleep aid medications:
- Don't treat the underlying cause of insomnia
- The quality of sleep is often not the same
- Can cause morning hangovers and daytime drowsiness in some people
- Other possible side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, drowsiness, headache, weakness, and constipation
- Extended use can make you develop a tolerance, making them less effective over time
- Interactions with other medications and alcohol
- Including: other sedatives, anxiety medications, anti-seizure medications, muscle relaxants, allergy medications, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and prescription pain medications
If you need to use OTC sleep aids for more than a short period of time, or think you might need a prescription medication, please make an appointment at Student Health Service to speak with a health care provider about your problems sleeping.
CBT-I is the 1st line treatment for insomnia. It focuses on stimulus control, sleep restriction, relaxation, and anxiety about sleep. CBT-I can be done as an individual in-person therapy, group therapy, telephone-delivered therapy, and online-based therapy. This is a short-term therapy that gives you the tools to change your sleep beliefs and behaviors. Most programs are 4-8 weeks long.
If you think this might be for you, check out the links in the “Apps and Resources” tab above, or make an appointment at Student Health Services or Counseling Services, where they may help something that is right for you.