Establishing Good Sleep Hygiene

My patients with chronic lung disease often report difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and sleeping deeply. Respiratory symptoms, medications and anxiety or depression can contribute to poor sleep if you have lung disease. 

A way to improve the quality of your sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene, which is a set of nighttime behaviors and routines that promote healthy sleep.

Here, I’ll explain how you can start building good sleep hygiene habits. 

Why Is Good Sleep Important?

Getting the right amount of sleep is essential to maintaining your overall health, especially if you have chronic lung disease.

The National Sleep Foundation states that adults ages 26 to 64 need 7 to 9 hours per night, and adults over age 65 need 7 to 8 hours per night. But it’s not only the amount of sleep you get that’s important — it’s the quality too.

High-quality sleep involves sleeping deeply and restfully without disruptions. 

Healthy sleep improves your physical and mental health, mood, cognition, productivity, stress levels and immune system. If you have lung disease, poor sleep can cause daytime sleepiness, chronic fatigue and a decline in quality of life. 

Research has also shown that lung disease patients who have disturbed sleep are at risk for increased flare-ups and hospitalizations.

7 Sleep Hygiene Tips to Follow 

Use the tips below to establish your own sleep hygiene habits. 

  1. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. A consistent sleep schedule will train your body to expect sleep during a specific time and ensure you get the right amount.
  2. Nap sparingly. Limit a daytime nap to 20 to 30 minutes, and ensure it’s several hours before bedtime. Don’t nap to make up for poor sleep the night before.
  3. Limit stimulants before bed. Smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, caffeinated tea or coffee can make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep without disturbances. 
  4. Don’t eat a heavy meal at night. Rich, fried or fatty foods, carbonated beverages and spicy foods may cause uncomfortable bloating, gas, heartburn and indigestion when it’s time to go to bed.
  5. Create the right environment. Make sure your mattress is comfortable, you have enough pillows and the temperature is pleasant. Take advantage of devices like eyeshades, blackout curtains, earplugs, fans or a white noise machine to limit distractions around you. 
  6. Find a calming nighttime ritual. Choose an activity that helps you unwind and relax before bed. Read a book, listen to soft music or take a warm bath. It may help to turn off your electronics 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. 
  7. Exercise during the day. Exercising during the day — even for just a few minutes — can improve your sleep quality. Walking is an excellent form of aerobic exercise.