Sleep hygiene


The term "sleep hygiene" denotes Behaviors or lifestyle habitsthat the sleep of the individual influence positively and Reduce sleep disorders. For this purpose, certain rules can be followed with regard to sleep, which promote a good and healthy sleep mainly through their continuity. The implementation lies with each individual himself and, if carried out consistently, represents an important building block in the non-drug therapy of sleep disorders. Particularly in the case of minor sleep disorders, healthy sleep hygiene can bring about a significant improvement. In the case of chronic sleep disorders, however, research into the causes should also be carried out.

Rules for sleep hygiene

There are some fairly simple rules of conduct that can help promote sleep.


Regular getting up times are very important. Even on the weekend and on vacation, you should always get up at about the same time. However, you shouldn't go to bed until you are really tired. Relaxation-promoting sleep rituals can help in the evening.
If you notice that you are in bed and cannot fall asleep, you should get up again and get busy. Only when you are feeling really sleepy should you go back to bed. The bed should be a place to sleep, so avoid working or reading in bed.
In addition, nap should be avoided if there are sleep disorders. It shouldn't be done after 3 p.m. and ideally it should be 10-20 minutes.
Furthermore, you should avoid exposing yourself to bright screen sources before sleeping. These include televisions, computers and smartphones, as they suppress the production of our sleep hormone melatonin due to their high proportion of blue light.

Read more about this under Fatigue, melatonin

The sleeping environment

Create a comfortable sleeping environment in which they are feel good. A comfortable bed is important for this as well calmer and darkened room, of the rather cool with enough fresh air should be. Outside noise should be kept as low as possible.


Care should be taken that no large meals be consumed before bed. Small meals can help you sleep, especially if they are milky are.


Stimulants are substances that have an activating effect on the body. That is an important representative caffeine. It increases brain activity and thus negatively affects sleep.
Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, as well as freely available caffeine preparations from the pharmacy should be No more 3-4 hours before going to bed be taken. A moderate consumption of caffeine throughout the day has no negative effects on sleep.
A severely excessive intake of caffeine a day however, it can promote withdrawal symptoms and sleep problems.

That is also important nicotine. For one thing, it can be Disturb sleep and on the other hand through Withdrawal symptoms cause sleep problems during the night. Former smokers fall asleep better and wake up less often at night. At least 3-4 hours before going to bed you should stop smoking.

Furthermore should Avoid alcohol 4-6 hours before bed to be drunk. This makes it easier to fall asleep, but leads to sleep problems and nightmares.


Exercising regularly is important for healthy sleep hygiene. However, one should very vigorous physical exertion avoided up to 6 hours before sleep become.That means regular exercise is good, but exerting yourself to the maximum in order to sleep better usually leads to poorer sleep.

Sleep hygiene in babies / toddlers / children

The required sleeping times for the child change in the course of their development.
If an infant needs an average of 17 hours of sleep a day after birth, the sleeping time continues to decrease. At the age of two, a child needs an average of 13.5 hours of sleep and at the age of 4 only 12 hours. At the age of 10, bedtime is approximately 9 hours and decreases even further as adolescents.

However, these are only average values ​​that can vary from child to child without there being any indication of an illness. In addition, different types of sleep should not be neglected. The so-called “larks” are typical morning people who are active early and tire quickly in the evening. In contrast, there are the so-called “owls”, who often have problems getting up, but are more productive in the evening. These two forms are seen in both children and adults.

Infants in particular still have very restless phases that make it difficult to sleep longer. The closeness to the parents is particularly important during this time. Since the babies often need a meal at night, it makes sense to set up the cot in the parents' bedroom. Having their own bed for the child is important. In addition, the infant should sleep supine in a sleeping bag with no additional blanket. A smoke-free environment is extremely important. A pillow should not be used and the mattress should be firm so that the child's head does not sink in. The room temperature should be in the range of 16-18 ° C so that there is no overheating. In addition, cuddly toys should be avoided in the baby's bed, as there is a risk of them covering the child's face.

In order to get the children used to a day-night rhythm, it is helpful to keep the light dim at night when changing diapers or feeding. A daily evening ritual can help toddlers and children fall asleep. This can be age-appropriate story reading or listening to a cassette / CD. It is important that it takes place every evening and does not last longer than 30 minutes.

Try to introduce regular bedtime and getting up times. The child's nap should be more than four hours away from bedtime. In order to fall asleep, the child is separated from the parents for a while. Therefore, during the day, it should also learn to separate from parents for a certain time and then to reunite.

An environment in which the child feels comfortable is also an important prerequisite for a good night's sleep. Sleep shouldn't be negatively associated, so sleeping or going to bed shouldn't be used as punishment. All in all, regulated bed times and falling asleep rituals are particularly important and can support healthy sleep for the children.

You might also be interested in the topic: Problems falling asleep in the baby

Sleep hygiene in old age

The sleep phases of the person change with age Deep sleep decreases. Still need the elderly do not sleep less, as is often believed.

However, that often changes Day-night rhythm due to living conditions. Older people often go to bed earlier and wake up again in the early hours of the morning because they have already met their need for sleep or have many short periods of sleep throughout the day. Diseases can also have a negative impact on sleep. For example, frequent nocturnal urination and chronic pain lead to increased sleep problems, often in the form of problems staying asleep.

Healthy sleep hygiene can help. For example, bedtime should not be brought forward and nap should be avoided if possible. A measured exercise during the day is particularly important. Sleeping pills in the elderly should be critically examined and discussed with the doctor due to numerous side effects. If you have sleep problems that last more than a month and disturb your daily well-being, this should be sought.

Sleep hygiene for depression

Sleep disorders can be observed in almost every depression. They are often the first signs of a depressive illness. They can express themselves in different ways, for example in the form of difficulty falling asleep or repeated short periods of wakefulness. Most often, however, the early, early morning awakening with a typical low mood can be observed.

At a seasonal depressionthrough recurring phases of depression in the autumn and winter is characterized, an increased need for sleep can also be observed. The underlying disease, depression, must always be treated therapeutically first.

Just prescribing a healthy sleep hygiene or a sleeping pill is a mistake. If the depression is treated with an antidepressant, it should be taken into account that the effect of the drug takes some time to appear. If the sleep disorder is very distressing, it should be addressed immediately. Non-drug treatment options for healthy sleep hygiene, as already described above, and possible short-term administration of sleeping pills are advisable. However, this is in Consultation with the attending physician to decide. In addition, a sensible selection of the right antidepressant can have a positive effect on sleep, for example through its sleep-promoting effect.

  • How can you recognize depression?
  • Winter depression

The right technique

The most important technique in sleep hygiene is to find continuity and regularity for yourself. It can help to get a sleep diary to measure your own sleep needs and to control yourself. Using the above rules can improve sleep behavior and promote healthy sleep.

Read more on the topic: Breathing exercises to help you fall asleep

A regular time to get up, going to bed depending on how tired you are, avoiding stimulants and exercising regularly are the basic building blocks of healthy sleep hygiene. However, if sleep disorders persist for a long time, further research into the cause should be carried out with the help of a doctor.

Read more about this under Neurological sleep disorders


A balanced nutrition promotes healthy sleep. hunger or a full stomach disturb sleep. Therefore, a large, fatty or spicy meal should be avoided before going to sleep. Eating a small meal before bed can help you fall asleep. Products containing milk are particularly recommended. In order to keep the urge to urinate low, you should not drink large amounts of fluids before going to bed.

Sleep hygiene after jet lag

The so-called "jet lag" occurs when crossing several time zones in a very short time, for example when traveling by air. Typical symptoms are difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, daytime sleepiness, indigestion and lack of concentration. It can take up to a weekuntil the symptoms go away.

Prophylactic countermeasures can be taken by booking day and not night flights. Direct flights during the day are the least disturbing our day-night rhythm. At Night flights you should definitely try to sleep, one should try to avoid this on day flights. At the Place of arrival you should look exactly adapt to the times of the day there and avoid sleeping in between. Physical activity during the day can help. Light plays an important role as a timer. If you want to stay awake, it helps to expose yourself to bright light or to avoid bright light for sleeping.

If the stay in the new country is less than 48 hours, it can be considered to keep the usual bedtime. At Travel west, you can try one to go to bed later a few days before departure. In eastbound it helps, however, if you sleeps earlier and gets up earlier in the morning.