OSF Illinois Neurological Institute

Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Healthy sleep requires healthy sleep habits. Many things we do and experience in our waking and sleeping hours affect our sleep. Since there is no “on button” for sleep, setting up the right circumstances will help you sleep when you want to and stay awake when you don’t. 

  • Go to bed at about the same time each night.  If you are not sleepy, wait a little while until you feel are sleepy and then you go to bed.
  • Get up at the same time every day, 7 days a week. No sleeping in on weekends or days off. A consistent wake up time will set your “internal clock” and help you fall asleep more easily at night.
  • Sleep only in bed. Sleeping in other places at home (such as on the couch, your recliner, or in another bedroom) can make it more difficult to sleep in bed.
  • Use your bed and bedroom only for sleep or intimacy. Avoid reading, watching TV, using the computer, phone, or other electronics in bed.
  • Do not lie awake thinking in bed. It may help to spend time earlier in the evening in another room to work on your problems or plan the next day’s activities.
  • If you cannot fall asleep for 15 or 20 minutes, get out of bed and go to another room to do a quiet activity, such as reading or doing a puzzle. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed. Avoid television, computer or other electronics use, snacks, or tobacco, as these can make you more alert. Get up at your regular time in the morning, no matter how much you slept.
  • Cover the clock so you can’t see it. Set your alarm for your wake time.  That will tell you when you can look at the clock, and when to start the day. If you have trouble sleeping, knowing the time can make it harder to fall back to sleep.
  • Regular exercise helps deepen sleep. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
  • Keep the noise down. Noise can keep you from falling asleep and disturb your sleep, even if you’re not fully awake. If necessary, consider ear plugs.
  • Keep your room temperature moderate. Being too hot or too cold can disturb sleep.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry. A light snack before bed may help you sleep.
  • Avoid excessive fluid intake in the evening. Try not to drink 2-3 hours before bed. This can reduce nighttime trips to the bathroom.
  • Avoid caffeine. Any caffeine, even early in the day, may affect sleep for some people.
  • Limit alcohol, especially later in the evening. Although alcohol may make you sleepy at first, sleep through the night becomes disrupted.
  • Avoid use of tobacco in any form. Tobacco use, especially at bedtime can disrupt sleep.
  • Avoid naps. If you have an irresistible urge to sleep during the day, a single nap of 30 minutes or less may be taken in bed.  Longer naps can disturb your nighttime sleep.

Sleep Needs in Children and Adults

Newborn                     16-18 hrs total

Infant                            9-13 hrs at night, up to 6 hr naps

Toddler                        10-13 hrs at night, up to 4 hr naps

6-12 yrs                        10-11 hrs (no naps)

13-18 yrs                      8-10 hrs (no naps)

Adults                           7-8 hrs