Here's some of the basics about it:
- Areas important to sleep hygiene:
- Circadian rhythm
- Common social or recreational drugs like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol
- Adapt your habits
o Set a bedtime and waking time (no sleeping in more than 2-3 hours on weekends)
o Avoid napping (if you do, make it short and before 3 pm)
o Avoid EtOH, caffeine, heavy/spicy/sugary foods 4-6 hours before bedtime
o Exercise! (but not right before bed)
- Adapt your environment
o Comfortable bed, comfortable temperature, dark room
o Block distractions (NO TV, NO computer for at least an hour or more before, but radio is OK)
o Only two S’s for bed
o Proper positioning
- Prepare yourself nightly
o Light snack (warm milk)
o Relaxation techniques
o No worries in bed!
o Pre-sleep ritual
o If you don’t fall asleep in 20 min, go do something else (like reading) until sleepy (~20 min later)
My waking time varies every day. Basically, I set it as late as possible so I can sleep in because it's just so hard for me to get up in the morning. I nap around 4-5pm whenever I can, which is usually 2 or 3 times a week. My naps are about 1-2 hours long, depending on what finally rouses me (usually hunger). On the plus side for me, I hardly ever snack late at night (but it's not really a problem for me to go to bed once I'm there. It's more an issue of studying when I feel most mentally alert... it's just unfortunate that it happens to be 10pm onward.
My environment for sleeping is pretty good. I actually sleep on a bed now, which different from the ~20 years of sleeping on a futon at home (the parents' place) One of my S's is lacking... I've pretty much replaced it with another S: studying.
My pre-sleep ritual usually involves brushing my teeth for close to half an hour while I browse blogs on the internet (or on especially good days, I decide to blog!) Perhaps an unwise decision, since the lights from the computer screen and the content of the blogs stimulate me and I decide "oooh, another 15 min wouldn't hurt..." and before I know it, it's 3am and I've got class at 830 tomorrow.
So my sleep hygiene is about as bad as it could be. If I want to start sleeping earlier and reset my circadian rhythm to a more decent hour, I've got to exercise more, stop my midnight blog browsing, and stop studying in bed. I should have a warm glass of soy milk, settle in with a book and read for about 15 minutes before turning in at midnight.
Ha! I wonder if that's even possible to manage, med school and beyond.