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  • Writer's pictureDr Joanne Stuart

Sleep Hygiene: The Sleep Routine

Research shows that if we have the same routine for between thirty minutes and an hour each evening before going to sleep, then our brains develop the understanding that that particular set of behaviours results in us going to sleep. After a short time of having the same routine each night, when we carry out the first behaviour in the set of behaviours, our brain starts to shut down in

preparation for sleep. As such, a sleep routine is really important.

A sleep routine is very much dependent on the type of evening that we generally have but a typical sleep routine might look like the following:

1. Watch something on the computer or TV downstairs sitting on a chair.

2. At 10pm turn off the computer and the TV.

3. Place items in the kitchen and turn off the lights.

4. Go in to the bathroom and have a shower/wash/brush teeth.

5. Go back in to bedroom and dim the room lights.

6. Change in to night clothes.

7. Get in to bed and do whatever it is that you generally do before sleep. Ideally, this would be to read but it is important to remember that the hue from some gadgets will tell the brain that it is day time, so the light of the gadget needs to be turned down or turned to a red hue.

8. As soon as you feel sleepy then go to sleep.

9. Do not finish the page or decide to watch the end of the program, as you can pass through a sleepy stage and in to a wakeful stage and it is far more difficult to get to sleep in a wakeful stage.

10. If, after 20 minutes of trying to sleep, you feel awake, or if you were not tired when you came in to your bedroom, then sit somewhere that is not your bed (bed must be only associated with sleep) and do some relaxation exercises. Please see 'breath work' and 'progressive muscle relaxation' for two examples.

11. Watch and wait until you feel tired and as soon as you do get in to bed and relax.

For more tips on getting to sleep - please see the other sleep articles in this series.

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