Good sleep hygiene is very important. Good sleep hygiene consists of
practices that reinforce the body's natural tendency to sleep at night.
- Maintain a regular bedtime and awakening time. For most people, nightly
time in bed should be no longer than 7 hours since excessive time in bed may fragment
sleep. Get out of bed at the regular time even if sleep was poor, as "sleeping
in" can disturb sleep the following night.
- Do not nap during the day as this results in poorer sleep at night.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages in the evening as this disturbs sleep.
- Avoid cafeinated beverages after noontime, as caffeine disturbs sleep.
Limit total caffeine consumption to no more than two beverages per day.
- Do not smoke just before bedtime or during the night as this disturbs
- Exercise regularly during the day, but avoid exercise in the evening
within 3 hours of bedtime.
- Do not use the bed or bedroom for anything other than sleep and sexual
activity. If the bedroom is used for non-sleep activities (such as watching TV), it may
become a stimulus for alertness, rather than for sleep.
- Establish a routine in preparation for sleep. Engaging in frustrating
activities or excessive worry close to bedtime may result in arousal and prevent sleep.
- Maintain a comfortable temperature in the bedroom.
- Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Try to screen out any disturbing noise
One of the most effective ways to relax at the end of a stressful day is
to do some abdominal breathing. Put on some relaxing music or nature sounds (the
sound of rain or running water). Dim the lights or turn them off. Stretch out on the bed
or sofa and roll your shoulders around a few times. Now you can focus on your breathing.
Take note of the following:
- Is your breathing rhythmic?
- Is your breathing relaxed?
- Is your chest moving up and down?
- Is your abdomen moving in and out?
When you are tense, breathing can be irregular and forced. Most people
also use their chest to breath when they are upset. The most natural way to breath is to
use the diaphragm which pushes down into the abdomen. Breathing should be relaxed
Try the following exercises:
- Breath without using your chest at all. Support your head on a pillow in
order to relax your neck muscles.
- Take several deep breaths into the abdomen. Exaggerate this motion to
give yourself a better sense of which muscles are involved.
- Place a book on your chest and another on your abdomen. The book sitting
on the chest should remain still. The book on the abdomen should clearly move up and down
in time with your breathing.
Practice these exercises for a minimum of 30 minutes each day so that
the abdominal breathing becomes a habit that you do without thinking.
Once you have formed this habit, you are ready to move on to the next
phase. In this phase, you simply add a brief pause at the end of each breath. Therefore,
the breathing cycle becomes: inhale, exhale, pause... inhale, exhale, pause...
If you find that the worries of the day are intruding on your breathing
exercises, simply say to yourself: "Ah ha, my mind has wandered. Let's return to the
If this is not successful in getting you refocused on the breathing, try
repeating a simple two syllable expression to yourself. Some examples are
"one-two", "deep down", and "in-out".
Remember, practice makes perfect.