9 sleep habits & 9 sleep rules.
1) Don't go to bed until you are drowsy.
2) Get up at approximately the same time each morning, including weekends. If you feel you must get up later on weekends, allow yourself a maximum of 1 hour later arising.
3) Don't take naps.
4) Don't drink alcohol later than 2 hours prior to bedtime.
5) Don't consume caffeine after about 4pm, or within 6 hours prior to bedtime. Learn all the foods, beverages and tablets that contain caffeine.
6) Don't smoke within several hours prior to your bedtime.
7) Exercise regularly. The best time to exercise is in the late afternoon. Avoid strenuous
physical exertion after 6pm.
8) Use common sense to make your sleep environment most conductive to sleep. Arrange for a comfortable temperature and minimum levels of sound, light and noise.
9) If you are accustomed to it, have a light carbohydrate snack before bedtime (eg: crackers, milk or cheese). Don't eat chocolate or large amounts of sugar. Avoid excessive fluids. If you awaken in the middle of the night, don't have a snack then or you may find that you begin to wake up habitually at that time feeling hungry.
Lie down with the intention of going to sleep only when you feel drowsy and ready for sleep.
Many insomnia sufferers go to bed before they are sleepy. If they had a hard time getting to sleep the night before, they probably feel tired and they reason they should get an earlier start on their sleep tonight. Sometimes these people spent 10 -12 hours in bed trying to get 8 hours of sleep. Let your body tell you when it is drowsy. If you go to bed when you are sleepy, you are more likely to go to sleep right away, reinforcing the association between bed and sleep. If you aren't sleepy, you might toss and turn, begin to think and get mentally and physically aroused. That would only reinforce the old habit patterns we are trying to eliminate. Remember being tired doesn't necessarily mean you are drowsy or ready for sleep.
Some people worry they won't get enough sleep if they follow this rule because the time they have to get up cannot change, due to work and schedule demands. But, by establishing a fixed time for getting up and allowing your bedtime to vary, your body can determine how much sleep you actually need in order to function well. Eventually your body will send you this message by getting sleepy when it's time for you to go to bed.
Get up at the same time every morning, regardless of how much sleep you got during the night or how rested you feel. Use an alarm clock to make sure that you accomplish this consistent wake-up time. It is important to permit your body to establish a regular body rhythm of peaks and lows. Sleeping in late on some mornings will accomplish much the same kind of effect that travelling across times zones does to your sleep patterns. Many poor sleepers use weekend mornings for trying to recapture some of the sleep they lost during the week. We will firstly discourage this practice because it only exacerbates problems with sleep. If you sleep in on weekend mornings you won't be ready to fall asleep at your usual time at night, setting the stage for insomnia for the rest of the week. If you feel that getting up at the same time on weekends is a special hardship for you, let's talk about it. I want you to try to follow this rule during the four weeks of treatment. If you continue to feel strongly about this point, once the active phase of the therapy has been completed, you can allow yourself up to a maximum of one hour later arising on Saturday and Sunday. Follow this same weekend rule for vacation days.
Don't take daytime naps. Most sleep experts are convinced that napping almost always disrupts the sleep arousal rhythm, making it harder to sleep at night. One reason for this disruption is that most people who do take naps do so some days but not others and take their naps at varying times each day. If you take naps you may also interfere with your body's natural ability to get the needed combination of all the different stages of sleep.
These proceedures described in the first three instructions will help your body to acquire a consistent sleep rhythm so that you feel drowsy an ready for sleep at about the same time each night and feel alert and ready to awaken at about the same time each morning.
Don't drink alcohol later than two hours before your bedtime. Although alcohol is a depressant,which if timed accurately may aid you to relax and fall asleep, it leads to restless, non-restorative sleep and the tendency to wake up during the night.
Don't drink caffeine later than six hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a powerful and long-lasting stimulant that interferes with the natural sleep cycle.
If you smoke, try not to smoke within several hours of your bedtime. Like caffeine, nicotine is a powerful stimulant.
Don't have vigorous exercise immediately prior to bedtime. Exercise stimulates that body and makes falling asleep soon afterward very difficult. Exercise just before bed doesn't tire us out, but had the paradoxical effect of waking us up. In fact, people who are drowsy and trying to stay awake to study often engage in physical exercise to wake themselves up. However, exercise in the late afternoon or early evening is a worthwhile pursuit and can be a good substitute for caffeine to ward off early evening drowsiness.
Set up your sleeping environment to make it conductive to sleep. Discuss light, temperature, mattresses, noise levels and other relevant facters.