What Strategies Can Be Implemented to Improve Sleep Hygiene in Individuals with Insomnia?

12 June 2024

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good, restful sleep and full daytime alertness. Good sleep hygiene is crucial for everyone, regardless of whether they are struggling with a sleep disorder like insomnia or not. But for those who do have insomnia, it’s even more important.

Inadequate sleep hygiene can cause insomnia and intensify the problems in those who already have this disorder. Furthermore, diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression can also be linked to poor sleep hygiene. Hence, it’s crucial to realize that maintaining sleep hygiene can contribute significantly to a person's overall health and wellbeing.

Strategies for Improving Sleep Hygiene

Improving sleep hygiene may sound complicated, but it’s often simply a matter of adjusting your lifestyle and environment.

Regular Exercise

One of the most effective ways to improve sleep hygiene is through regular physical activity. Exercise is a powerful sleep aid that enhances the quality of sleep. The Mayo Clinic suggests that regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep.

However, timing is important. If you exercise too close to bedtime, it can interfere with sleep. This is because exercise stimulates the body, elevating the temperature and heart rate, which can prevent you from falling asleep. Therefore, it's recommended to exercise at least a few hours before bed.

Prioritize Your Sleep Environment

The environment in which you sleep can greatly affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. For this reason, it’s important to make your sleep environment conducive to sleep.

This includes having a comfortable bed, maintaining a cool room temperature, blocking out light and eliminating noise. Even a small amount of light can disrupt your melatonin levels, the hormone responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle.

Stick to a Sleep Schedule

Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule can also make a big difference in your quality of sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover.

Consider Light Therapy

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is another method that may help improve your sleep. The treatment involves exposure to specific types of light for a set period each day.

Commonly used to treat seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that commonly occurs in the fall and winter months, light therapy may also help reduce symptoms of insomnia and improve sleep hygiene. The theory is that the light can help reset your body’s internal clock, making you more likely to fall asleep at the right time.

Evaluate Your Relationship with Electronic Devices

It's no secret that electronic devices can hamper our sleep. The light emitted by devices like smartphones and computers can interfere with our body's production of melatonin, leading to problems falling asleep.

If possible, switch off your electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. If that's not feasible, consider using a tool like Night Shift on iOS devices or a similar application on Android devices that adjusts screen lighting to reduce blue light exposure in the evening.

Also, it would be best to keep electronic devices out of your bed and ideally, out of your bedroom. This helps you associate your bed with sleeping, and not with activities that can keep you awake.

Seek Professional Help

If despite your best efforts to improve sleep hygiene, you're still struggling with insomnia, it may be time to seek professional help. Speak to a healthcare provider who specializes in sleep disorders.

They can provide more in-depth analysis and treatment options, which may include behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Remember, there's no need to suffer in silence - help is available, and you deserve a good night's sleep.

In conclusion, improving sleep hygiene involves several strategies, including regular exercise, optimizing your sleep environment, and considering light therapy. Additionally, limiting exposure to electronic devices before bedtime and maintaining a regular sleep schedule can be beneficial. Finally, if these strategies are not enough, seeking professional help is recommended. Remember, good sleep hygiene is critical for your overall health and wellbeing.

The Power of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for insomnia is a structured program aimed at helping individuals identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep. Unlike sleeping pills, CBT-I helps you overcome the underlying causes of your sleep issues.

According to sleep medicine expert Danielle Pacheco, CBT-I is a highly effective form of treatment for chronic sleep disorders, including insomnia. It typically involves regular sessions with a therapist, who will teach you a variety of sleep-improving skills. These skills include relaxation techniques, strategies for reducing worry and anxiety, and ways to create an environment conducive to quality sleep.

In essence, CBT-I is about changing the mental factors associated with insomnia, such as the mentality of going to bed only when tired. This technique also helps control or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake.

Importantly, CBT-I can provide lasting relief for chronic sleep issues by changing the unhealthy sleep habits and scheduling practices that cause insomnia or contribute to its severity. Therefore, considering this form of behavioral therapy could be an essential step for anyone struggling with sleep disorders.

Diet and Sleep Hygiene

It’s often overlooked, but what we consume before bedtime can greatly influence our sleep quality. As such, a healthy diet can be a key element in maintaining good sleep hygiene.

Research has shown that a diet high in sugar and low in fiber is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more interruptions. On the other hand, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can contribute to better sleep.

Caffeine and alcohol are two significant diet factors that can interfere with sleep. The Mayo Clinic warns that even though alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it actually disrupts sleep later in the night and leads to poorer quality sleep overall.

Furthermore, it's worth noting that the timing of meals can also affect sleep. Eating a large meal close to bedtime can result in discomfort and indigestion, making it harder to fall asleep.

By paying attention to what and when you eat, you can set the stage for better sleep. Thus, incorporating dietary considerations into your sleep hygiene practices can significantly improve your sleep quality.


Insomnia and other sleep disorders, if left untreated, can significantly impact a person's physical and mental health. However, by adopting effective strategies, one can greatly enhance sleep hygiene and improve sleep quality. From regular exercise to creating a conducive sleep environment, sticking to a sleep schedule, considering light therapy, and evaluating your relationship with electronic devices, various measures can be undertaken to ensure better sleep.

For chronic sleep disorder sufferers, therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy offer practical tools to overcome their conditions, while a balanced diet can also contribute significantly to better sleep.

Remember, everyone deserves quality sleep, and the path to achieving this goes beyond merely counting sheep. It's about making a commitment to healthy habits that promote good sleep. If you need help addressing your sleep problems, don't hesitate to seek professional guidance. With the right strategies and some perseverance, a good night's sleep is within reach.