I will talk about sedative and hypnotic medications in future videos, but I want to start a discussion on sleep with sleep hygiene. I recommend all my patients start here and follow this process at least 90% of the time prior to talking about medication. I find most patients are not doing these things and if they are it’s not consistent enough to see a noticeable improvement.
- Stick to a routine by waking up at approximately the same time each day. Do this for seven days, and do not alter the time on weekends. This will help you gradually set your internal clock. You have more control over your wake times than your sleep time as you may not feel tired. Try to avoid taking a nap during the day even on nights where you do not get much sleep.
- Avoid all caffeine after 12 PM, the effects of caffeine are long lasting and can interrupt sleep. If you can completely stop caffeine that would be best, but at the very least minimize consumption before 12 PM.
- Try to exercise daily (seven days per week), preferably early in the day and not too close to bedtime. Start with 15 minutes per day and gradually work your way up. A combination of resistance training and cardiovascular training is best.
- Stop doing active mental work at least one hour before bed.
- Avoid watching TV, using a phone, laptop, or tablet before bed. The blue light from screens has been shown to worsen sleep. The bed should be used for sleep and sex only.
- Create a bedtime ritual to follow every night before bed, warm bath, mindfulness exercise, gratitude journal, reading, or listening to music.
- Do not use alcohol as a way to promote sleep. Alcohol negatively impacts sleep architecture and the sleep you do get will be unsatisfying.
- The bedroom should be dark, quiet, and the temperature should be cool but not cold around 65 degrees is ideal. Consider blackout curtains, a fan to cool the room, and ear plugs to facilitate these conditions.
- Restrict Food and drink 2-3 hours prior to bedtime. This will reduce the chances of sleep being interrupted to use the bathroom.
- If you have any pain, take appropriate pain medications prior to bed.
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