Jennifer Smith
reviewed by Dr Michael Yapko
Friday, November 27, 2020
Jennifer Smith
Friday, November 27, 2020

Sleep Hygiene: 10 Tips for Better Sleep


Sleep hygiene is as important as physical hygiene: it's essential to our health, our wellbeing, and our longevity. Yet, despite its importance, many people struggle to get enough good quality sleep.

Poor sleep has been linked with negative effects on hormone levels, physical performance, and brain function. It has also been linked to obesity and an increased risk of diseases. Good quality sleep, alternatively, can help you maintain a healthy weight, avoid disease, and improve your health. Below are ten evidence-based tips to help you get a good night's rest. 

While you might not be able to do every sleep-smart strategy at once (especially if you have small children), remember, it's not all-or-nothing when it comes to better sleep! Even small changes in your sleep hygiene can help you build healthier sleep habits.

Sleep Hygiene Tips PDF infographic

1. Create a relaxing bedroom environment

Ever had one of those days where you finally flop into bed, totally exhausted, but still can't sleep? It could due to a poor sleeping environment. A soothing sleep space and a comfortable bed have been shown to improve the quality and duration of your sleep. 

Below are some tips to optimize your bedroom for sleep:

  • Switch off the lights: Exposure to light at night can interrupt your circadian rhythm. Use a sleep mask or blackout blinds to block sources of light that could interrupt your sleep.
  • Turn off or tune out noise: Make your bedroom as quiet as possible. If you live in a noisy area, or can't avoid noise in your room or house around bedtime, consider using earplugs or headphones. You can also drown out the noise with a white noise machine or a fan.
  • Set a soothing temperature: Try to keep your bedroom at an ideal temperature for sleeping. Research supports sleeping in a cooler room that is 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). 
  • Invest in a quality mattress and bedding: Your sheets and bedding should be comfortable and supportive. Not loving your bed? Considering upgrading for better sleep. One study even found that a new mattress improved sleep quality by 60%. It's recommended that you replace your bedding every few years.

2. Keep a regular sleep schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can improve your sleep. This is because it can help to set your circadian rhythm to a regular cycle.

Some studies have shown that irregular sleep cycles can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals your brain to sleep. Research has also shown that those who slept later on weekends reported poorer sleep overall. While it's hard to stick to the same sleep/wake schedules every day (who can say no to the occasional sleep-in?), even a little more consistency can make a difference. 

Here are some tips for keeping a sleep schedule:

  • Set a fixed waking up time: Try to keep a habit of waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends or if you slept late the previous night.
  • Allocate time for sleeping: The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is around 7-9 hours, so set aside at least 8 hours for sleeping. Try to limit the difference in sleep schedule on weekdays and weekends by no more than one hour.
  • Adjust your sleep schedule gradually: If you need to adjust your sleep schedule for travel or work, try to do so gradually. Make little-by-little adjustments of 1-2 hours per night. This will allow your body to gradually adapt to the new schedule.

3. Increase bright light exposure during the day

Exposure to natural sunlight during the day helps improve the quality of your sleep at night. 

While you might never think about how your body knows when to sleep and when to wake, this very clever process is influenced by your internal body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are our body's 24-hour cycles that steer our essential functions and processes, one of which includes the sleep-wake cycle.

Light plays an important role in regulating our circadian rhythm, influencing when we sleep and wake. Light also has an effect on the body's production of the sleep-producing hormone melatonin. Research suggests that being exposed to more quality light in the morning, between the hours of 8 am and noon, can help you to fall asleep more quickly at night and experience fewer sleep disturbances.

One study showed that two hours of bright light exposure increased the amount of sleep by two hours. Another study showed that exposure to bright light in the morning resulted in better sleep and lower levels of stress and depression. 

If you are unable to get enough natural bright light exposure, consider using artificial light sources.

4. Reduce light exposure in the evening

While preparing for better sleep during the day requires light, good quality sleep at night requires darkness.

Night-time light exposure has been shown to reduce sleep quality. This is due to the effect of light on circadian rhythm, as the brain is tricked into thinking it is still daytime. Studies have found that blue light is the most disruptive type of light, which is bad news for people who like to scroll through their phone or check their emails before bed.

Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce blue light exposure at night:

  • Avoid watching television or using a laptop 2-3 hours before you plan to sleep.
  • Use computer apps such as f.lux that remove blue light.
  • Download smartphone apps that remove blue light from the screen
  • Wear glasses that block out blue light in the evening

5. Avoid caffeine late in the day

Despite what the slogan on your coffee mug might say, the body doesn't need caffeine to function. Even so, moderate caffeine intake is not associated with any recognized health risks, which is good news for lovers of coffee and chocolate. 

However, caffeine can stimulate your nervous system and make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for up to 8 hours. Research has also shown consuming coffee up to 6 hours before sleeping can worsen sleep quality.

It's best to avoid consuming coffee, chocolate, or other sources of caffeine after 2 or 3 pm in the afternoon. If you regularly drink coffee in the evening, try switching to decaffeinated versions of your favorite brew.

6. Try hypnosis for sleep 

If you struggle to fall asleep, try listening to a relaxing hypnotherapy recording. Hypnotherapy involves listening to verbal cues to guide you into a deep, concentrated state of relaxation. This relaxed state has been shown to make it easier to fall asleep than focusing on sleep.

Hypnotherapists may use different approaches to produce a relaxed state, such as:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery
  • Hypnotic language, using phrases such as 'relax,' 'deep' and 'easy.'

There is some evidence that hypnosis can help to improve sleep. One large meta-study of over 500 participants showed hypnotherapy shortened the time taken to fall asleep compared to the control group, but not to a sham intervention.

Want to try hypnosis for sleep? There's no need to invite a licensed hypnotist to sit at your bedside; high-quality sleep hypnosis apps are available to download on your smartphone.

Calm your IBS in just 6 weeks with Nerva

Start Now
Self-guided gut hypnotherapy
Developed by doctors
89% of users report improved gut symptoms

Take control of how you think, feel & act with Mindset

Try for free
Self-guided hypnosis app
Developed by world-experts
Courses on anxiety, negative thinking, achieving goals & more

Self-manage menopause & hot flashes naturally

Learn more
Evidence-based hypnotherapy
Menopause education
Symptom tracking & more!

7. Avoid long naps during the day

Taking a nap can help you make up your sleep debt; however, sleeping too long during the day has also been shown to negatively affect your sleep at night. 

Napping interferes with your circadian rhythm (your body clock that regulates your sleep/wake cycles) and may cause you to struggle to sleep at night. Try to limit nap time to a maximum of 30 minutes during the day and avoid napping later in the day.

That being said, some research suggests people who regularly nap may not experience disrupted sleep at night, so experiment and see how napping affects the quality of your sleep. 

8. Don't eat or drink late in the evening

As anyone who's gone too hard on Christmas dinner knows, what you eat and drink in the evening can impact your sleep.

Consuming a large meal close to bedtime can reduce sleep quality. This is because a late-night meal may impact the release of hormones such as HGH and melatonin.

However, it is important not to go to bed hungry. Rather than overly restricting your meals, it's wise to eat a reasonable portion and choose ingredients that won't negatively affect your sleep. Although some foods can make it harder to drift off, one study showed that eating a high-carbohydrate meal 4 hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster.

While a 'nightcap' is normal for many people, alcohol can actually disrupt your sleep later in the night. Try to avoid drinking alcohol before bed, and if you're using a tipple to settle you for sleep, try and find a new wind-down routine that doesn't involve a drink. 

9. Rule out sleep disorders

If you regularly experience poor sleep, an underlying health condition may be to blame. You should consult your doctor if you think you have a sleep disorder.

Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, or sleep well at night, is the most common sleep disorder. It can be caused by stress, jet lag, certain medications, or mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. 

Another common sleep disorder is sleep apnoea, in which you temporarily stop breathing during your sleep, which may wake you up. Up to 25% of individuals experience sleep apnoea in their lives. Another possible cause of sleep problems are circadian rhythm disorders. This is a condition common in shift workers, whereby sleep times are out of alignment. 

Your doctor can help identify a sleep disorder, refer you to a sleep specialist, or recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications such as:

10. Exercise – but not before bed

Exercise can help you sleep better at night. Physical activity can improve both sleep quality and reduce symptoms of insomnia.

One study in older adults showed exercise reduced the time taken to fall asleep by half and improved sleep duration by an average of 42 minutes. 

Research has also shown that exercise was more effective than sleeping pills for treating people with insomnia. The total sleep time increased, and time taken to fall asleep was reduced in the group that exercised.

However, exercising too late in the day may cause sleep problems. This is because exercise may increase alertness and produces stimulatory hormones such as epinephrine. That being said, a few studies have shown the opposite—that late-night exercise did not cause sleep problems.

The Wrap-Up

Sleep is important for health and longevity. Poor sleep has been associated with a range of health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. There are several things you can do to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, such as getting exposure light in the daytime, keeping your room dark at night, and trying hypnotherapy programs designed to aid sleep. If you’re struggling with sleep, talk to your doctor to rule out a possible sleep disorder. It’s a good idea for everyone to make sleep hygiene a top priority to ensure good health.

Self-hypnosis app for sleep, anxiety & depression

Try the Mindset app
Self-guided hypnosis app
Developed by world-experts
Courses on anxiety, negative thinking, achieving goals & more

Calm your IBS in just 6 weeks with Nerva

Start Now
Self-guided gut hypnotherapy
Developed by doctors
89% of users report improved gut symptoms

Manage hot flashes naturally, at home

Learn more
Evidence-based hypnotherapy
Menopause education
Symptom tracking & more!

Our Sources

Mindset Health only uses high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed research, to support our articles. We work with experts to ensure our content is helpful, accurate and trustworthy.

  1. Altevogt, B.M. and Colten, H.R. eds., 2006. Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: an unmet public health problem. National Academies Press.
  2. Van Cauter, E., Holmbäck, U., Knutson, K., Leproult, R., Miller, A., Nedeltcheva, A., Pannain, S., Penev, P., Tasali, E. and Spiegel, K., 2007. Impact of sleep and sleep loss on neuroendocrine and metabolic function. Hormone Research in Paediatrics, 67(Suppl. 1), pp.2-9.
  3. St-Onge, M.P., 2013. The role of sleep duration in the regulation of energy balance: effects on energy intakes and expenditure. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(1), pp.73-80.
  4. Telzer, E.H., Fuligni, A.J., Lieberman, M.D. and Galván, A., 2013. The effects of poor quality sleep on brain function and risk taking in adolescence. Neuroimage, 71, pp.275-283.
  5. Halal, C.S., Matijasevich, A., Howe, L.D., Santos, I.S., Barros, F.C. and Nunes, M.L., 2016. Short sleep duration in the first years of life and obesity/overweight at age 4 years: a birth cohort study. The Journal of pediatrics, 168, pp.99-103.
  6. Covassin, N. and Singh, P., 2016. Sleep duration and cardiovascular disease risk: epidemiologic and experimental evidence. Sleep medicine clinics, 11(1), pp.81-89.
  7. Leproult, R. and Van Cauter, E., 2010. Role of sleep and sleep loss in hormonal release and metabolism. In Pediatric Neuroendocrinology (Vol. 17, pp. 11-21). Karger Publishers.
  8. Libert, J.P., Bach, V., Johnson, L.C., Ehrhart, J., Wittersheim, G. and Keller, D., 1991. Relative and combined effects of heat and noise exposure on sleep in humans. Sleep, 14(1), pp.24-31.
  9. Lee, K.A. and Gay, C.L., 2011. Can modifications to the bedroom environment improve the sleep of new parents? Two randomized controlled trials. Research in nursing & health, 34(1), pp.7-19.
  10. 10. Jacobson, B.H., Boolani, A. and Smith, D.B., 2009. Changes in back pain, sleep quality, and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 8(1), pp.1-8.
  11. 11. Jacobson, B.H., Gemmell, H.A., Hayes, B.M. and Altena, T.S., 2002. Effectiveness of a selected bedding system on quality of sleep, low back pain, shoulder pain, and spine stiffness. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 25(2), pp.88-92.
  12. 12. Van Dongen, H.P. and Dinges, D.F., 2003. Investigating the interaction between the homeostatic and circadian processes of sleep–wake regulation for the prediction of waking neurobehavioural performance. Journal of sleep research, 12(3), pp.181-187.
  13. 13. Giannotti, F., Cortesi, F., Sebastiani, T. and Ottaviano, S., 2002. Circadian preference, sleep and daytime behaviour in adolescence. Journal of sleep research, 11(3), pp.191-199.
  14. 14. Mayo Clinic. 2020. How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Need?. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 October 2020].
  15. 15. Sanassi, L.A., 2014. Seasonal affective disorder: Is there light at the end of the tunnel?. Journal of the American Academy of PAs, 27(2), pp.18-22.
  16. 16. Vitaterna, M.H., Takahashi, J.S. and Turek, F.W., 2001. Overview of circadian rhythms. Alcohol Research & Health, 25(2), p.85.
  17. 17. Fetveit, A., Skjerve, A. and Bjorvatn, B., 2003. Bright light treatment improves sleep in institutionalised elderly—an open trial. International journal of geriatric psychiatry, 18(6), pp.520-526.
  18. 18. Figueiro, M.G., Steverson, B., Heerwagen, J., Kampschroer, K., Hunter, C.M., Gonzales, K., Plitnick, B. and Rea, M.S., 2017. The impact of daytime light exposures on sleep and mood in office workers. Sleep Health, 3(3), pp.204-215.
  19. 19. Higuchi, S., Motohashi, Y., Liu, Y. and Maeda, A., 2005. Effects of playing a computer game using a bright display on presleep physiological variables, sleep latency, slow wave sleep and REM sleep. Journal of sleep research, 14(3), pp.267-273.
  20. 20. Higuchi, S., Motohashi, Y., Liu, Y. and Maeda, A., 2005. Effects of playing a computer game using a bright display on presleep physiological variables, sleep latency, slow wave sleep and REM sleep. Journal of sleep research, 14(3), pp.267-273.
  21. 21. Kessel, L., Siganos, G., Jørgensen, T. and Larsen, M., 2011. Sleep disturbances are related to decreased transmission of blue light to the retina caused by lens yellowing. Sleep, 34(9), pp.1215-1219.
  22. 22. Kimberly, B. and James R, P., 2009. Amber lenses to block blue light and improve sleep: a randomized trial. Chronobiology international, 26(8), pp.1602-1612.
  23. 23. Nawrot, P., Jordan, S., Eastwood, J., Rotstein, J., Hugenholtz, A. and Feeley, M., 2003. Effects of caffeine on human health. Food Additives & Contaminants, 20(1), pp.1-30.
  24. 24. Fredholm, B.B., Bättig, K., Holmén, J., Nehlig, A. and Zvartau, E.E., 1999. Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacological reviews, 51(1), pp.83-133.
  25. 25. Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J. and Roth, T., 2013. Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(11), pp.1195-1200.
  26. 26. Rajasekaran, M., Edmonds, P.M. and Higginson, I.L., 2005. Systematic review of hypnotherapy for treating symptoms in terminally ill adult cancer patients. Palliative medicine, 19(5), pp.418-426.
  27. 27. Ng, B.Y. and Lee, T.S., 2008. Hypnotherapy for sleep disorders. Ann Acad Med Singapore, 37(8), pp.683-8.
  28. 28. Richardson, J., Smith, J.E., McCall, G. and Pilkington, K., 2006. Hypnosis for procedure-related pain and distress in pediatric cancer patients: a systematic review of effectiveness and methodology related to hypnosis interventions. Journal of pain and symptom management, 31(1), pp.70-84.
  29. 29. Garbarino, S., Durando, P., Guglielmi, O., Dini, G., Bersi, F., Fornarino, S., Toletone, A., Chiorri, C. and Magnavita, N., 2016. Sleep apnea, sleep debt and daytime sleepiness are independently associated with road accidents. A cross-sectional study on truck drivers. PloS one, 11(11), p.e0166262.
  30. 30. Groeger, J.A., Lo, J.C., Burns, C.G. and Dijk, D.J., 2011. Effects of sleep inertia after daytime naps vary with executive load and time of day. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125(2), p.252.
  31. 31. McDevitt, E.A., Alaynick, W.A. and Mednick, S.C., 2012. The effect of nap frequency on daytime sleep architecture. Physiology & behavior, 107(1), pp.40-44.
  32. 32. Schenck, C.H. and Mahowald, M.W., 1994. Review of nocturnal sleep‐related eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 15(4), pp.343-356.
  33. 33. Allison, K.C., Lundgren, J.D., O'Reardon, J.P., Geliebter, A., Gluck, M.E., Vinai, P., Mitchell, J.E., Schenck, C.H., Howell, M.J., Crow, S.J. and Engel, S., 2010. Proposed diagnostic criteria for night eating syndrome. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 43(3), pp.241-247.
  34. 34. Afaghi, A., O'Connor, H. and Chow, C.M., 2007. High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 85(2), pp.426-430.
  35. 35. Issa, F.G. and Sullivan, C.E., 1982. Alcohol, snoring and sleep apnea. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 45(4), pp.353-359.
  36. 36. Morin, C.M. and Benca, R., 2012. Chronic insomnia. The Lancet, 379(9821), pp.1129-1141.
  37. 37. Walsh, J.K., 2004. Pharmacologic management of insomnia. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 65, pp.41-45.
  38. 38. Young, T., Palta, M., Dempsey, J., Skatrud, J., Weber, S. and Badr, S., 1993. The occurrence of sleep-disordered breathing among middle-aged adults. New England Journal of Medicine, 328(17), pp.1230-1235.
  39. 39. Hajak, G., Rodenbeck, A., Voderholzer, U., Riemann, D., Cohrs, S., Hohagen, F., Berger, M. and Rüther, E., 2001. Doxepin in the treatment of primary insomnia: a placebo-controlled, double-blind, polysomnographic study. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 62(6), pp.453-463.
  40. 40. Nierenberg, A.A., Adler, L.A., Peselow, E., Zornberg, G. and Rosenthal, M., 1994. Trazodone for antidepressant-associated insomnia. The American journal of psychiatry.
  41. 41. Roehrs, T., Vogel, G., Sterling, W. and Roth, T., 1990. Dose effects of temazepam in transient insomnia. Arzneimittel-forschung, 40(8), pp.859-862.
  42. 42. O'Brien, C.P., 2005. Benzodiazepine use, abuse, and dependence. The Journal of clinical psychiatry.
  43. 43. Reid, K.J., Baron, K.G., Lu, B., Naylor, E., Wolfe, L. and Zee, P.C., 2010. Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Sleep medicine, 11(9), pp.934-940.
  44. 44. Youngstedt, S.D., 2005. Effects of exercise on sleep. Clinics in sports medicine, 24(2), pp.355-365.
  45. 45. King, A.C., Oman, R.F., Brassington, G.S., Bliwise, D.L. and Haskell, W.L., 1997. Moderate-intensity exercise and self-rated quality of sleep in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Jama, 277(1), pp.32-37.
  46. 46. Solomon, F., White, C.C., Parron, D.L. and Mendelson, W.B., 1979. Sleeping pills, insomnia and medical practice. New England Journal of Medicine, 300(14), pp.803-808.
  47. 47. Ingram, L.A., Simpson, R.J., Malone, E. and Florida-James, G.D., 2015. Sleep disruption and its effect on lymphocyte redeployment following an acute bout of exercise. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 47, pp.100-108.
  48. 48. Myllymäki, T., Kyröläinen, H., Savolainen, K., Hokka, L., Jakonen, R., Juuti, T., Martinmäki, K., Kaartinen, J., KINNUNEN, M.L. and Rusko, H., 2011. Effects of vigorous late‐night exercise on sleep quality and cardiac autonomic activity. Journal of sleep research, 20(1pt2), pp.146-153.


Similar Articles

No items found.

What is Mindset?

We’re glad you asked! Mindset is a hypnotherapy app for mental health & positive thinking.

Personalized to you

Learn coping skills


Created by experts

Available 24/7

Loved by thousands

Take our free IBS quiz
Start now