Stress Management Management Techniques How to Ditch Poor Sleep Hygiene By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Published on April 22, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Huma Sheikh, MD Medically reviewed by Huma Sheikh, MD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Huma Sheikh, MD, is a board-certified neurologist, specializing in migraine and stroke, and affiliated with Mount Sinai of New York. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Kilito Chan / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents The Importance of Sleep How Much Sleep Do You Need? Healthy Sleep Hygiene Habits We often develop sleeping habits and patterns as children, and carry them forward with us over the years. If your sleeping habits are not serving you well, it can be helpful to work on developing healthier sleep patterns, also known as good sleep hygiene, for better sleep. This article discusses the importance of sleep, how much sleep you need, and some healthy sleep hygiene habits that may help you sleep better. The Importance of Sleep We sleep for approximately one-third of our lives. The brain is in fact quite active during sleep, while the body rests and recharges its energy levels. These are some of the reasons why getting a good night’s sleep is important: Growth and repair Immunity and disease prevention Learning, memory, attention, and emotional regulation Physical and mental well-being Furthermore, lack of adequate sleep is linked to several negative outcomes, including: Obesity Diabetes Hypertension Heart disease Lower immunity and greater susceptibility to infections Reduced cognitive function Mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and anger issues Alzheimer’s disease and dementia Vehicular and workplace accidents Best Sleep Apps How Much Sleep Do You Need? The amount of sleep we need can vary depending on our age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the amount of sleep we need, by age: Newborns (0 to 3 months old): 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day (including naps)Infants (4 to 12 months old): 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day (including naps)Toddlers (1 to 2 years old): 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day (including naps)Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old): 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day (including naps)School-age children (6 to 12 years old): 9 to 12 hours of sleep per dayTeenagers (13 to 18 years old): 8 to 10 hours of sleep per dayAdults (19 to 60 years old): 7 or more hours of sleep per dayAdults (61 to 64 years old): 7 to 9 hours of sleep per dayAdults (65 years and above): 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day Theories on Why We Sleep Healthy Sleep Hygiene Habits These are some healthy sleep hygiene habits that can help you get better sleep: Plan for adequate sleep: Try to go to sleep approximately 8 hours before you need to start the next day. Maintain a consistent routine: Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Try and maintain this consistency on weekends as well. This can help set your internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Create a comfortable environment: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a temperature you’re comfortable in. Blackout curtains, heavy drapes, or an eye mask can help block out light, whereas earplugs can help block out noise. Use your bed exclusively for sleeping: Avoid using your bed for other activities such as working or eating, to maintain the association that this space is only for sleeping. Put away electronic devices: Avoid using electronic devices such as your cellphone, computer, tablet, television, and gaming console at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep. Nap early in the afternoon: If napping is part of your daily routine, take a quick nap early in the afternoon. Avoid napping late in the afternoon or in the evening. If you’re having difficulty falling asleep at night, napping could be the culprit, so it may be helpful to skip your nap altogether. Do something relaxing before bedtime: Find a calming activity to do before you go to sleep, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to soothing music, doing a few gentle stretches, meditating, or doing a relaxation exercise. Avoid stressful discussions or strenuous activities right before you go to bed. Don’t let yourself engage in revenge bedtime procrastination. Note your worries in a journal: If you’re unable to sleep because you’re stressed out, it can be helpful to write down your worries in a journal before you go to bed. Transferring your thoughts to paper can help you clear your mind and go to sleep. Don’t watch the clock: If you’re unable to sleep, avoid watching the clock. Stressing yourself out about how late it is can make it harder for you to fall asleep. Engage in a relaxing activity instead, or try moving to another location in your home. Avoid caffeine in the evening: Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it hard for you to sleep. It can be found in tea, coffee, sodas, energy drinks, and chocolate, among other things. It is best avoided four to six hours before bedtime. If you drink a lot of caffeine, gradually cut back on your intake. Limit alcohol and nicotine consumption: Alcohol and nicotine are also stimulants, and should be avoided too close to bedtime. While alcohol can help you fall asleep initially, it can act as a stimulant a few hours after you go to sleep, which can affect the quality of your sleep or cause you to wake up earlier than you normally would. Limit your alcohol consumption to one or two drinks per day, preferably consumed three hours before you go to sleep. Eat a light dinner: Try and eat your dinner at least two hours before you go to bed. Avoid heavy meals and foods that give you indigestion. Regulate your fluid intake: Drink enough water to ensure that you’re sufficiently hydrated and won’t wake up at night thirsty, but not so much that you wake up to use the bathroom. Exercise regularly: Staying active and getting some exercise during the day can help you get a good night’s sleep. Try to walk or exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. Seek help if you need it: If you have insomnia, if you’re up at night with sad or anxious thoughts, or if you’re not able to sleep well despite your best efforts, it can be helpful to visit a healthcare provider for treatment. Conditions like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome may be the reason why you’re having difficulty sleeping. 8 Tips for Getting Back to Sleep in the Middle of the Night A Word From Verywell Sleep is an important aspect of staying mentally and physically healthy. If you haven’t slept well, you may notice that you don’t feel good, your energy levels are lower, you’re unable to concentrate, you're cranky and irritable, you find it harder to deal with stressors, and you’re more prone to catching a cold or falling ill. Maintaining good sleep hygiene can help you relax and get a good night’s sleep. Performing a soothing bedtime routine can be a self-care activity that you do for yourself. 13 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Sleep. Cleveland Clinic. Sleep basics. Worley SL. The extraordinary importance of sleep. P T. 2018;43(12):758-763. Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Sleep and health. Reutrakul S, Van Cauter E. Sleep influences on obesity, insulin resistance, and risk of diabetes. Metabolism. 2018;84:56-66. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2018.02.010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep for a good cause. Grandner M, Mullington JM, Hashmi SD, Redeker NS, Watson NF, Morgenthaler TI. Sleep duration and hypertension. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(6):1031-1039. doi:10.5664/jcsm.7176 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How does sleep affect your heart health? Watson NF, Buchwald D, Delrow JJ, et al. Transcriptional signatures of sleep duration discordance in monozygotic twins. Sleep. 2017;40(1). doi:10.1093/sleep/zsw019 Saghir Z, Syeda JN, Muhammad AS, Balla Abdalla TH. The amygdala, sleep debt, sleep deprivation, and the emotion of anger: a possible connection? Cureus. 10(7):e2912. doi:10.7759/cureus.2912 Sprecher KE, Koscik RL, Carlsson CM, et al. Poor sleep is associated with CSF biomarkers of amyloid pathology in cognitively normal adults. Neurology. 2017;89(5):445-453. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000004171 Chattu VK, Manzar MdD, Kumary S, Burman D, Spence DW, Pandi-Perumal SR. The global problem of insufficient sleep and its serious public health implications. Healthcare (Basel). 2018;7(1):1. doi:10.3390/healthcare7010001 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much sleep do I need? Additional Reading Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep hygiene tips. Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Twelve simple tips to improve your sleep. National Library of Medicine. Changing your sleep habits. Medline Plus. By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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