Trouble Snoozing? Preparing for Sleep Should Be a Part of Daily Routine
Published October 2007
When hygiene is mentioned, washing hands, brushing teeth and general cleanliness come to mind.
But UC sleep expert Victoria Surdulescu, MD, says there’s more to hygiene than soap and water.
“Sleep hygiene is essential in maintaining health,” she says.
Surdulescu says in all cases, the key to sleeping well is routine.
“It’s the most important aspect in maintaining good sleep habits,” she says. “Just as routine helps a person in all other areas of his or her life, it helps with rest as well.”
Routine, she says, helps the body to wind down and eliminates stimulation of the brain around bed time.
Surdulescu says even small activities like brushing teeth or taking a bath helps your body prepare for sleep.
“It has been scientifically proven that increasing a person’s core body temperature, which is accomplished during a bath, promotes deeper sleep,” she says, adding that she typically warns against late-night showers. “Showers tend to be energizing.”
Surdulescu also says that avoiding stimulants including coffee, soda or chocolate after 3 p.m. is advised for a more restful sleep.
“It can take up to eight hours for caffeine to metabolize in your system,” she says.
Other factors for a better night’s sleep include exercising in the morning or during the day as opposed to the evening, providing a dark, quiet and cool sleeping environment and associating the bed with rest.
“The only activities that should be performed in the bedroom are sleep and sex,” Surdulescu says.
“Many people watch TV, play with their pets or do crafts on their bed. That creates an association with activity in the bedroom and can lead to sleep problems.”
Surdulescu says that people should also avoid being on the computer late at night and falling asleep in front of the television.
Even reading in bed should not be done if a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
She adds that it is important to go to bed and get up at the same times every day.
“The maximum amount of varied sleep we can handle is about two hours,” she says. “People also need eight hours of sleep a night, despite what they may think. Five hours is typically not enough to keep a healthy person energized throughout the day.”