Sleep hygiene is a term that’s used to describe a group of strategies that will improve your ability to get a restful night’s sleep. In the context of chronic pain, these strategies often need to be supplemented with medications, but they are nonetheless important.
It’s your first priority
First of all, you must be pro-active in getting a full night’s sleep, which is seven to eight hours. The percent of adults who do not get a consistent full night’s sleep is around 35-40%. Some type of sleep disturbance is an issue with over 60 million Americans. Allowing yourself to just lie in your bed not sleeping night after night is unacceptable. You may not see any results initially, but your persistence will be rewarded.
In the surgical world, it is somewhat of a perverse badge of honor to see how hard you can work with just sleeping five to six hours a night. It can and does become a way of life. However, at that point, you no longer know what it is like to function regularly on a full night’s sleep. Your quality of life is compromised, and you are unaware of the extent.
Some sleep hygiene concepts are:
- Don’t get into bed until you are ready to fall asleep. Watch TV, read, etc. in another room.
- Do not drink any caffeine after noon.
- Minimize alcohol intake in the evening—you will fall asleep but not stay asleep
- No heavy exercise in the evenings.
- Remove any clocks from the room.
- Do something relaxing just before going to bed.
- If you are hungry have a light snack.
- Concentrate on relaxing each muscle group in your body from head to toe.
The older you are, the more important it may become to practice good sleep hygiene. The ability to get a good night’s sleep takes a definite downturn around age 25 and another one at age 45.