Top 10 Sleep Tips

Top 10 Sleep Tips

Top 10 Sleep Tips: Sleep Hygiene Techniques for Optimal Sleep 

It is rare that I see a patient that doesn’t struggle with some aspect of sleep, whether falling asleep or staying asleep or simply not getting enough sleep. Last week I discussed the importance of sleep on every system in our body (read more here). In my practice if patients are struggling with sleep we often utilize supplements in the short term (more on this coming next week) but the goal is to create good sleep habits and hygiene so that you can sleep well without any aids or only occasional use when needed. 

Here is a list of the Top 10 Sleep Hygiene Tips I recommend to all of my patients:

  1. Keep a fixed bedtime and awakening time each day, even on the weekends. This predictability helps our bodies internal circadian rhythm and release of sleep and awake hormones. 
  2. Avoid caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime. Some people are more sensitive than others regarding caffeine so try to tune in and figure out the best cut off for caffeine. Keep in mind that things like teas and dark chocolate can also have caffeine and can disrupt sleep if too close to bedtime. 
  3. Get outside first thing upon waking to get morning light (no sunglasses) to set your circadian rhythm for the day. This is a big one! Viewing morning sunlight, especially as it comes over the horizon, signals a release of cortisol, adenosine and epinephrine which help us to wake up. Viewing morning sunlight also helps to set an internal timer than 14-16 hours later, melatonin, our sleep hormone, to be released to help get us ready for sleep. One of my favorite neuroscientists, Andrew Huberman, PhD talks a lot about this morning light exposure and has a great podcast on it here.
  4. Avoid using alcohol and marijuana before bed as it disrupts restorative sleep. Many believe that these substances help with sleep and while they may help with falling asleep, they do not provide deep restorative sleep and often cause frequent nighttime awakenings so trying to avoid these substances, especially close to bedtime can help with sleep quality.
  5. Limit screen use before bedtime, bright lights can prevent the release of melatonin which regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Try to wind down in the evening, turn down bright lights, avoid screens for an hour or two before bed if possible, or use blue light blocking glasses. 
  6. Exercise regularly but avoid exercise 2 hours prior to bedtime so that you are not feeling too revved up when trying to go to sleep. 
  7. Avoid napping later in the day (after 3pm) or taking long naps during the day. 
  8. Create an environment conducive to sleeping and reserve the bedroom for sleeping and intimacy only. You want your body to associate your bedroom with sleep (not stimulating activities like watching TV, anxiously looking at the news or working).
  9. Establish a pre-sleep ritual like taking an epsom salt bath, stretching or yoga, dry brushing or a skin care routine, prayer or mindfulness, journaling or reading a book. Pick a calming activity to signal that it is time to wind down.
  10. Do not lay awake in bed for prolonged periods. If you are awake for more than 15-20 minutes, it is best to get out of bed and do something boring or repetitive (folding laundry or reading a book under dim lighting…not scrolling on your phone!) so that, again, your body associates your bed with sleeping, not being awake. Once you are feeling sleepy again you can go back to bed to drift off. If it is worry keeping you awake, I recommend keeping a notebook or journal by the bed to write a to-do list before bedtime for the morning or any worries or thoughts that might be keeping you awake that you will deal with the following day. 


Pick just one or two of these Top 10 Sleep Tips to work on each week until you have the perfect routine in place to achieve optimal sleep. As a mom to two young children, I know that sleep is not always guaranteed so I recommend focusing on optimizing the areas that I am able to control so that when I am given the opportunity to sleep, I am able to get good restorative sleep. 

If you are struggling with sleep and looking for more help in identifying root causes or  looking for a personalized plan, I am here to help! I am currently accepting new patients for personalized Functional and Integrative Medicine. Click the link below to schedule a free 15 minute discovery call to see if I can help!