Simple Ways to Improve Sleep Hygiene

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

When was the last time you had a restful night’s sleep? If you find yourself yawning during the day or feeling irritable or outright fatigued, there’s a good chance that you’re not getting quality sleep.

Good sleep hygiene not only provides you with a good night’s rest, but has plenty of other benefits to your health, both physical and mental. So how can we improve our sleep hygiene and start sleeping better?

Audience Questions

In this ask me anything session, Eriana (Buteau) Kirwin, OTD, discusses the importance of sleep, provides ways to determine what you need for your own sleep hygiene, and helps us put the “good” back in “good night.”

  • What exactly is sleep hygiene, and what factors into having good sleep hygiene?
  • How do you know if your sleep hygiene is good or not? What are the criteria for assessing if your sleep quality is good—beyond how much coffee you need the next day?
  • How bad is technology usage before bedtime? When should I shut my laptop off or put my phone down if I don’t want it to impact my sleep hygiene?
  • How do I get deep sleep? I wake up during the night and can’t go back for about 2 hours. How do I stay asleep?
  • Do you have any suggestions on how to help sleep issues due to menopause?
  • Is melatonin bad for us to use?
  • Can you have good sleep hygiene when working varying shifts, like night shifts 3 times a week?
  • My partner told me that I snore, but I didn’t know before that. What should I do? Should I get a sleep test?
  • How can we better understand our REM cycles?
  • My personal experience is that both not enough and too much sleep is not good for my functioning, etc. How can I find the balance?
  • Usually I have trouble falling asleep because I spend hours worrying about everything. What are some ways to stop this?
  • How important is keeping the bedroom in darkness? Some experts stress it a lot. What is your opinion?
  • I’ve recently heard about people wearing blue light blocking glasses overnight to help them sleep. Have you heard about this? Is it something to consider? How about wearing blue light blocking glasses during the day?
  • Do you have suggestions for children or adults with ADHD to help them fall and stay asleep?
  • What can you do if you go to bed comfortable, but wake up hot in the middle of night?
  • I noticed that when I sleep in on the weekend, like until 9am, I wake up with a headache. Is it because I am dehydrated or can you get an headache from oversleeping?
  • I have experienced trauma and losses during this time, and it seems more daunting at night. How can I sleep better?
  • After a few nights of trouble falling asleep, it induces anxiety and stress about going to bed that I will have trouble sleeping again. What are your suggestions?
  • What can you do if you constantly can’t fall asleep, and walking around the house and trying a new surface and other techniques still don’t result in getting enough sleep?
  • I can fall asleep in the afternoon very quickly if I lay down to rest (though I avoid this most days to preserve sleep for night). But at night, it takes sometimes hours to fall asleep. Any thoughts on why that is?
  • Is it better to avoid using an alarm if you have the flexibility to wake up naturally?
  • I use a website sleep calculator that tells me when I should wake up, whether to go to sleep now, or when I should go to sleep if I want to wake up at a certain time. Do you recommend using supports like this?
  • After an especially hectic workday, I often listen to classical music tuned to a low sound level throughout the night. But does this practice have the potential to be harmful?
  • If there are too many thoughts in your head, is it good to get up and add to your to do list or better to try to let it go?
  • Recently, I have been seeing ads for a cooling blanket you sleep on. What is the evidence for cooling down at night and better sleep?
  • I get a lot of headaches and migraines, and it results in no sleep for days. Is there anything I can do?
  • What can you do if you don’t have much time for your pre-sleep routine? Would the sensory suggestions, like playing sudoku, work if you only do it for 10 minutes, for example?
  • Can mindfulness and mindful breathing help when you’re having trouble falling asleep?
  • How do you manage your own sleep when sharing a bed with someone?
  • What techniques are there to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night? I have no problem falling asleep, but I often wake up in the middle of the night and then am unable to fall back asleep, especially if I get up to go to the bathroom.
  • What is the ideal amount of sleep?
  • Some people take Benadryl or other drowsy over-the-counter medications when they get into a rut of not sleeping well. Do you think this is safe?
  • My parents had the same sleep disturbances in their lives that I do. Do sleep issues run in families?
  • What are the physical implications of lack of sleep? Is it as bad or worse than driving drunk?
  • What’s the importance of having a wake-up routine?
  • Can you catch up on sleep?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.

About Eriana Kirwin, OTD

Eriana Kirwin, OTD, is an occupational therapist, formerly at McLean’s Pathways Academy.

Pathways Academy is a year-round, therapeutic day school developed to meet the social, sensory, psychological, and educational needs of children and adolescents ages 6 through 22 with autism spectrum disorders.

Learn more about Pathways Academy.

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Originally aired on November 20, 2020