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Lifestyle Modification for Sleep Disorders: An Effective Form of Non-pharmacological Treatment

Published on May 07, 2015 and last reviewed on Dec 08, 2022   -  2 min read


Did you know that most sleep-related problems can be treated without medicines? This article stresses the fact that managing a sleep disorder by good sleep hygiene or practicing good sleep habits is as effective as medicinal treatment with fewer chances of side effects.

Lifestyle Modification for Sleep Disorders: An Effective Form of Non-pharmacological Treatment

A sleep disorder is a form of psychiatric disorder of the sleep patterns. The poor sleep quality can be either due to deficit in sleep i.e, insomnia or excessive sleep i.e, hypersomnia.

Sleep Hygiene

Treating a sleep disorder by good sleep hygiene or practicing good sleep habits is as effective as medicinal treatment with less chances of side effects.

  • First of all try to be punctual with the time at which you go to bed and awake in morning. This includes holidays as well.
  • Wear comfortable, loose clothes before going to bed.
  • Relax before going to bed and do not indulge in any kind of strenuous activity before going to bed. Exercise should be at least 4-5 hours before sleeping.
  • Taking a nap in the late afternoon or early evening can cause nighttime sleep to be of poor quality. Limit the napping time to 10-20 minutes.
  • Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can cause insomnia at night and thus may increase daytime sleepiness. Avoid these 2-5 hours before going to bed. Alcohol can lead to repeated awakenings during the latter part of the night.
  • Medications can lead to excessive sleepiness or insomnia. If you are taking any medication always ask your physician for their effect on sleep.
  • Stress can also lead to insomnia. Meditation and stress relieving exercises like yoga can improve your sleep.
  • Avoid stimulating activities late in the evening. Watching television and radio can keep you awake.
  • Exposure to light during day is also essential. Avoid staying indoors during day for long time.
  • Eat a balanced diet with regular mealtimes. Avoid fried, spicy and heavy meals at bedtime. Have light diet for dinner.
  • Reduce weight if you are overweight. People who are overweight are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
  • The bedroom environment should be soothing. The bedroom light should be dim but adequate. The bedroom should also be kept quiet. If bright light or noise cannot be avoided, earplugs and eye masks may be helpful. The temperature in the bedroom should neither be hot nor cold.
  • If you cannot sleep after going to bed for more than 30 minutes, then get out of bed and do some relaxing exercise and then try again.

Treatment with medicines should be the last choice that too in resistant cases.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Make Lifestyle Changes for Better Sleep?

In order to sleep better every night, one must inculcate certain lifestyle changes:
- Consistency in wake-up timings.
- Go to bed at the same time.
- Go to bed preferably eight hours from your expected waking time.
- Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages during evening hours.
- Practice relaxing and calming activities before bedtime.
- Avoid screen time before sleeping.
- Avoid strenuous activity just before bed.
- Sleep in a quiet and dark place.
- Sleep at your preferred temperature.


How Does Lifestyle Affect Sleep?

Some lifestyles have shown detrimental effects on the quality of sleep, like weight gain, insufficient physical exercise, and consumption of substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.


What Four Changes Should Insomniacs Make to Improve Sleep?

The four behavioral changes to be made by insomniacs to sleep better are:
- Sleep restriction: Spend minimum time in bed before bedtime.
- Reconditioning: Use the bed only for sleeping purposes.
- Relaxation: Use techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and biofeedback to relax the mind before bedtime.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: Change the negative thoughts and beliefs about sleep into positive ones.


What Five Things Can Improve Sleep Quality?

The five things one can do to improve the quality of sleep are:
- Minimize light and sound during bedtime.
- Get comfortable in your bed (temperature, comforter, and mattress).
- Stick to a routine.
- Manage stress.
- Do some activities.


What Is the Best Routine for Sleep Management?

To create a healthy sleeping routine, one must follow some steps:
- Set up a healthy sleeping routine.
- Maintain a constant sleeping schedule.
- Establish an electronic curfew.
- Reduce caffeine, alcoholic beverages, and other OTC (over-the-counter) drugs.


How Does Lifestyle Habits Affect Insomnia?

Certain lifestyles habits can cause insomnia like:
- Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime. 
- Spending too much screen time close to bedtime.
- Exercising close to bedtime.
- Not managing stress.


Does Sleep Come Under Lifestyle Factors?

Japanese researchers believe inadequate sleep and behaviors like obesity, insufficient physical exercise, and consuming substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are associated with lifestyle.


How to Train for Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is a scientific method that includes steps to be practiced during the day and before bedtime to create healthy sleeping conditions.
The steps for sleep hygiene training are:
- Set a consistent sleep schedule.
- Create a relaxing pre-bedtime routine.
- Make the bedroom comfortable to your specifications.
- Dim the light after sunset.
- Avoid screens before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, beverages, alcohol, and spicy and fatty food before bedtime.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid bed for anything other than sleeping.
- Avoid mid-day naps.


How to Correct Sleeping Disorders?

To correct sleeping disorders, one should follow some steps:
- Stimulus control therapy: Removal of anti-sleep triggers.
- Relaxation methods: Breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation along with biofeedback.
- Sleep restriction: Decrease the time in bed.
- Remaining passively awake: Reducing the worry and anxiety about being able to get to sleep by getting in bed and trying to stay awake.
- Light therapy: Use light to push back your internal clock.
- Pharmacotherapy: Use drugs like Eszopiclone, Ramelteon, Zaleplon, and Zolpidem.


How Do Herbs Affect Sleep?

Some herbal remedies that affect sleep are valerian root, chamomile, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), kava, passionflower, hops, and lemon balm.


What Can Be Done to Sleep Better and Wake Up Refreshed?

To sleep better and wake up refreshed, one must:
- Make a commitment to sleep.
- Establish a bedtime routine.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid heavy suppers.
- Expose yourself to morning sunlight.
- Limit nicotine and caffeine intake.


What Makes Someone Tired Even After Eight Hours of Sleep?

The main culprits causing tiredness even after sufficient amounts of sleep are:
- Unawareness of your sleep needs.
- Inefficient sleep.
- Sleep debt.
- Night time caffeine or alcohol consumption.
- Night time workout.
- Infections.


What Makes Someone Wake Up Tired Every Day?

It is common but not normal for someone to wake up tired in the morning, which may be due to:
- Sleep inertia.
- Sleep debt.
- Alcohol or caffeine.
- Inefficient sleep.


How Is Age Related to Sleep Requirements?

Sleep requirements of individuals vary with age as follows:
- Ages 0 to 3 months: Up to 17 hours.
- Ages 4 to 11 months: Between 12 to 15 hours.
- Ages 1 to 2 years: Between 11 to 14 hours.
- Ages 3 to 5 years: Between 10 to 13 hours.
- Ages 6 to 13 years: Between 9 to 11 hours.
- Ages 14 to 17 years: Between  8 to 10 hours.
- Ages 18 to 25 years: Between 7 to 9 hours.
- Ages 26 to 64 years: Between 7 to 9 hours.
- Ages 65 years and above: Over 7 to 8 hours.


Which Food Items Can Keep Someone Awake at Night?

Food can have a great impact on the quality of sleep. Intake of such foods for dinner can result in inefficient sleep. These food items are:
- Caffeinated food and beverages (chocolate, coffee, energy drinks, tea, tiramisu, etc.).
- Spicy food.
- High glycemic index foods and added sugar.
- Fatty food.
- Fast food and other ultra-processed foods.
- Alcoholic drinks.

Last reviewed at:
08 Dec 2022  -  2 min read




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