Sleep Hygiene Checklist

This sleep hygiene checklist will assist you with your daytime and nightly activities so you can benefit from the best possible sleep.

Set out below you will find those not so favorable behaviors that you can avoid as well as those good behaviors you can implement to support better sleep habits.

Obtaining great sleep hygiene can help to dramatically improve your quality and quantity of sleep.

Make no mistake this could be difficult for some. As it involves making changes to your activities, diet, and lifestyle.

This could include limiting caffeine, making sure you attempt regular exercise and as well as having a relaxing and regular bedtime routine.

We should start with an explanation as to what is sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene are factors positive and negative that we carry out throughout the day which impacts our sleep routines. You can find out all the information you need to know about sleep hygiene in an article I wrote here…

The professionals {The National Sleep Foundation – Source} say that adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Therefore by practicing good “sleep hygiene”, this is achievable.

The best outcome for good sleep hygiene is for one to obtain the best sleep they can so they do not need to rely on sleep medications {which are only effective over a short period of time} to achieve sleep.

What to Avoid for Good Sleep Hygiene

1. Daytime Naps

Unless you really require a nap during the day leave this for the babies, toddlers, and tired mothers.

If you do need a nap then try to take it no later than in the early afternoon, and limit it to a maximum of 30 minutes.

2. Stimulants

Caffeine

Caffeine wakes you up and boosts your energy levels.

Stopping caffeine intake 6 hours before sleep – even better stop caffeine intake after lunchtime – you will increase your chances of getting to sleep and also getting a night of better deeper sleep.

Remember to check labels as caffeine is found in many foods and drinks especially prepackaged food. You also need to remember that caffeine is usually packaged along with large amounts of sugar which are also stimulants. So you could be on an energy high for hours after consuming food and drinks that contain so much sugar and caffeine.

If you have trouble sleeping monitoring your caffeine intake, in general, is a great idea.

The experts at Mayo Clinic {source} indicate that up to 400 mg, for healthy adults, is a safe amount per day.

A good measure for monitoring your caffeine intake is 2 cans of soda/cola OR 4 small regular cups of coffee per day.

  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Energy Drinks
  • Milk Drinks containing coffee or chocolate
  • Sugar

Medications

  • Diuretics
  • Steroids

If you need to take these medications morning is the best time of day for minimum impact on sleep – unless your physician advises you otherwise.

Smoking and Recreational Drugs

Unfortunately, smoking and recreational drugs are also stimulants – try to have your last cigarette earlier in the evening as with the other stimulants you may well have a great outcome.

Screen Time

Try to cut these out a few hours before bedtime. Take up something else to relax you such as reading, craft, knitting…….

This includes:-

  • Television
  • Computers
  • Smart Phones
  • iPads
  • Kindles
  • Gaming Consoles – {these are stimulants}

If you do want to continue to use these items make sure they are set to the night mode, it does assist with the blue light that is emitted from the devices. Glasses are also available which cut out even more blue light.

Stress

Limiting your stress generally will allow sleep to come more easily.

But making an effort to relieve the stress and wind down in the hours leading up to your bedtime will help exponentially.

3. Alcohol Consumption

You would assume that because you can achieve a wonderfully relaxed feeling from alcohol that it will help you sleep. In fact, it may help you get to sleep initially, but you will not have an uninterrupted nights sleep.

Unfortunately, research also shows that more alcohol consumed the more it will affect our sleep. This then will affect your general sleep cycle patterns.

4. Heavy Meals

Heavy meals depending upon what you eat can make us all feel uncomfortable at times even if it is a large breakfast.

So keep this in mind when eating in the evening. Also, consider the type of food, for example, spicy or sugary food in large quantities are not recommended close to bedtime.

These two will most certainly affect your sleep if you have a reaction to them. Our bodies work hard at night to repair, we don’t need our digestion systems overloaded to digest foods that disrupt us.

Heavy meals earlier in the day and lighter meals in the evening.

We should all stop eating at least a couple of hours before bed.

5. Plan Your Exercise

You absolutely want to continue with your exercise regime. It should just be carried out at the appropriate time that will not affect your sleep.

Brisk walking in the mornings – excellent time.

Other gentle or weight-bearing exercises anytime up to mid-afternoon – excellent.

6. Vitamin D

Try to get out into the sunshine at least a couple of times a day. 10-15 minutes should do it.

This could be your exercise throughout the day, nothing like a 10-15 minute brisk walk a couple of times a day.

It will help keep your biological clock or circadian rhythms regulated.

Sleep Hygiene Check List Yes or No

Sleep Hygiene Checklist

Here’s my “Ultimate Sleep Hygiene Checklist”. Everything you need to check off for your best sleep hygiene routine.

If you are new to sleep hygiene and are trying to clean up some bad sleep habits you might consider keeping a “Sleep Diary” while starting out.

Remember we will all require different “Sleep Routines” so writing down all the steps and strategies you try along the way will certainly help you stay on track. With this diary, you will also quickly be able to see what has worked for you and what hasn’t.

Remember to write down how much better you feel throughout the day when you are good sleep habits kick in – trust me you will feel better!

You will also have a little self-recognition – it is not easy to change a lifetime of habits so this recognition will keep you motivated to keep on track of good sleep hygiene.

1. Prepare Throughout the Day

Good sleep practices do not start just before bedtime. You need to have a routine you stick to until the habits come naturally.

  • If you have not slept well during the night before trying to stick to your daytime routine. It is more beneficial in the long run than trying to get some catch-up sleep
  • Exercise early in the day
  • Get some vitamin D from the sun
  • Keep well hydrated during the day – drink water and caffeine-free herbal teas throughout the day
  • No naps during the day if you can avoid them
  • Avoid caffeine from lunchtime if you can or at least for the few hours before you go to bed
  • Avoid spicy and heavy meals for a few hours before bed – give it time to digest before you lay down
  • Prepare yourself and your sleeping environment before going to bed

2. The Bedroom – Setting the Scene

  • A dark quiet bedroom – remember the morning sun
  • A quiet and comfortable bedroom can be achieved using blinds, curtains, soft furnishings, rugs, bookshelves against walls and colors {here is a great article about colors in the bedroom and how they can assist your sleep}
  • Clean sheets and bedding
  • Bedroom light colors {I have another article here which tells you all about what the best light colors for sleep are}
  • Use your bed only for sleeping and intimacy only
  • The bedroom temperature is important – you do not want to feel too hot or cold {here is an article I wrote which outlines the best temperatures for sleeping}
  • Have your eye mask, earplugs, and a glass of water beside your bed – so you don’t have to get up unnecessarily throughout the night

3. Nightly Routine

  • Establish a regular routine for going to bed and getting up – this could mean setting that alarm!
  • Go to bed and get up and at the same time every day – even on the weekend – keeping up the regular times and your body clock will kick in and stay in tune
  • Treat yourself  to your favorite caffeine-free herbal tea {camomile is great for relaxation} or have a warm milky drink before bed
  • Take a bath – a hot bath 1 to 2 hours before your scheduled bedtime can be used to your advantage. Research shows that your body temperature rises during the bathing process and sometime after, then as your body temperature drops you start to feel tired and sleepy.
  • Brush your teeth set your alarm
  • Set aside time to relax by listening to music, reading, jigsaw puzzle {you do a little every night until complete – do not stay up to complete one every night} or relaxation exercises
  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy – work this in with a reasonable bedtime {remember the more you stick to your nightly routine the quicker your body clock will adjust}

Tips If Sleep Will Not Come

  • Go to bed only when sleepy – you will only become frustrated lying awake in bed
  • Not asleep within about 15-20 minutes get up and do something quiet and relaxing like reading the go back to bed when you feel sleepy
  • When you do get up try not to light the house up like the 4th of July – keep the lights dime you do not want your body to think it is the day time
  • Check your sleep posture – are you comfortable – try laying on your back or your left side – check out my article about the best “sleeping positions”
  • Do not be tempted to kill time on an electronic device. The light and other stimulation will tell your body it is not bedtime but time to play
  • Herbal remedies – chamomile tea, valerian, lavender essential oil
  • Try some breathing and stretch exercises
  • Listen to sleep relation music
  • White noise could be your thing
  • Limit liquid consumption be required by some to negate the need to use get up to go to the bathroom during the night
  • Remember your bedroom is designed for sleeping – do not be tempted to lay in bed and watch TV or work on projects
  • Stop looking at your clock if you cannot sleep – check that your alarm is set correctly – then tuck your clock out of view
  • Thirsty? Have a glass of water do not be tempted by any stimulating drinks
  • Keep a notepad and pen beside the bed – you can then record things on your mind and clear your head – so you do not lay awake worrying about things
  • Remember above all to keep calm if you cannot sleep a night here or there – just engage in a quiet task like reading or listening to music – sleep will come

Final Thoughts

Carrying out a complete overhaul to your routine and implementing some or all of the strategies outlined above in the “Checklist” is a great way to achieve better sleep hygiene.

As individuals, there is no one checklist that fits us all. So use the sleep hygiene checklist as a guide and work out a routine that works for you. You should also remember that your sleep requirements will change over time and definitely from time to time.

For example holidays, visitors, study, work requirements, illness or pain! Any number of things so remain flexible and adjust to circumstances when required – try not to get frustrated.

Same as diet and exercise – being good and persistent 99 percent of the time yields success over not trying at all.

Talk to a Professional

There is a “BUT” there are so many factors that can contribute to poor sleep that if you feel you are doing to the best you can do on a daily basis and you are still not achieving enough sleep you should seek professional advice.

Talking to a professional and ruling out any other factors that could be stopping you getting your best sleep is always a good thing.

As always here’s to better sleep!