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Posts Tagged ‘Sleep Hygiene’

Sleep Hygiene and Me. By Our April Student Pharmacist, T’Bony Jewell.


Have you ever had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?

Many of our daily activities and parts of our routine contribute to our ability to fall and stay asleep. Certain foods and drinks contain substances that can either help us fall asleep or may keep us awake. Other medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD and other restrictive airway diseases), acid reflux disease, and congestive heart failure may affect our ability to achieve adequate rest due to “variations in airway resistance” and changes in our posture during sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep hygiene is defined as, “a variety of practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.”

Here are some things you can do (or not do) to help decrease time to falling asleep and help you stay asleep.


  • Establish a regular routine. Your body gets used to recurring activities. Doing the same thing every night, such as eating dinner, showering, then reading a book can help you slowly relax as you get ready for bed.
  • Make your sleep environment comfortable.
  • Turn off cellphones and televisions.
  • Use soft lighting.
  • Adjust the temperature in the room.
  • Light cardio or aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can aid in restful sleep.


  • Take naps throughout the day, especially close to bedtime. Your circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle can be thrown off making it harder for your body to know when to produce hormones like melatonin that aid in sleep induction.
  • Drink caffeine or use other stimulants close to bedtime. These substances can over power your natural ability to fall asleep.
  • Engage in strenuous activity (i.e. furniture lifting).
  • Use your bedroom for activities such as studying or catching up on work. Your body may begin to associate the bedroom with stimulating activities and may not begin to relax or put you in a restful state.

People with other medical conditions:

If you have GERD or acid reflux:

  • Don’t eat spicy foods close to bedtime. If you do, drink plenty of water and pre-treat with recommended medications like ranitidine or famotidine 30 minutes before your meal.
  • Raise the head of your bed to keep food from re-entering the esophagus where it causes heart burn.

If you have congestive heart failure or CHF:

  • Restrict the amount of sodium and water you consume. This helps to prevent the buildup of fluid around the lungs that can make it difficult to breathe.

If you have COPD or other restrictive airway disease:

  • Take your medications as directed by your physician, even when you feel well. Your controller inhalers usually have a steroid or other medication to decrease the inflammation in the airway making it easier to breathe.
  • Adjust your posture in bed to get the best air flow to your lungs.

Follow these tips and you’ll be sleeping like a baby.


Getting the Z’s You Need: A Message About Sleep Hygiene From Our Sleep-Deprived Student Pharmacist, Amy Reed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. From a study in 2009, 35.3% of adults reported getting less than 7 hours of sleep nightly. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that healthy adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per day, and school-age children might require 10–11 hours of sleep.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a predisposition to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and obesity. Lack of sleep can also lead to nodding off in the middle of the day or even falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle. The National Department of Transportation estimates drowsy driving to be responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 non-fatal injuries annually in the United States.

So what are some things that you can do to ensure a good night’s sleep every night of the week?

  • Go to bed around the same time each night. Adjust to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on the weekends.
  • Get regular exercise, but NOT right before bedtime. Your body will need to calm down after a vigorous workout, which can make it difficult to fall asleep right away.  If you only have time to exercise at night, try gentle exercises like yoga/stretching.
  • Do not eat a large meal or forget to eat before bed. Eating a heavy meal before bed is not a great idea since your stomach will be active for several hours to digest all of its contents. But an empty stomach can also make it hard to fall asleep. If you are hungry and it is close to bedtime, try eating a low calorie snack with little to no sugars (yogurt, veggies, pretzels, etc.).
  • Do not take naps. If you must nap, make sure that it is only for about 15-30 minutes in the early afternoon (not too close to when you normally go to sleep).
  • Do not drink alcohol after dinner. It may help you fall asleep, but when the alcohol wears off you may become restless and wake up.
  • Avoid tobacco and caffeine close to bedtime. If possible, do not consume caffeinated beverages within 8 hours of going to bed.
  • Keep a notebook next to your bed. If you have something on your mind or something that you need to do, write it down and deal with it tomorrow.
  • Avoid working/studying/watching TV in bed. Reserve the bedroom for sleep.
  • Try to wind down at the end of the day. Do not do household chores or work right before bed. Give your body an hour to slow down and prepare for rest. Quiet activities, like reading, will help you to relax. Turn off electronic devices with screens; these lights can keep your body in an awake-state rather than calming you down.
  • Make sure you are sleeping in a relaxing environment. A good bedroom environment is quiet, dark, and not too hot or too cold.

Sweet dreams!

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