Counseling Center

Sleep Hygiene and Exercise Tips

Sleep Hygiene

  1. Get regular. Go to bed and get up at more or less the same time every day, even on weekends and days off!
  2. Get up and try again. Try to go to sleep only when tired. If you haven’t been able to get to sleep after about 30 minutes, get up and do something calming (not stimulating) until you feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again.
  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Avoid consuming any caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate) or nicotine (cigarettes) for at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. These act as stimulants and interfere with falling asleep.
  4. Avoid alcohol. Avoid alcohol for at least 4-6 hours before bed because it interrupts the quality of sleep.
  5. Bed is for sleeping. Try not to use your bed for anything other than sleeping and sex, so that your body comes to associate bed with sleep.
  6. Electronics curfew. Don’t use back-lit electronics 60 minutes prior to bed, as the artificial light inhibits hormones and neurons that promote sleep.
  7. No naps. Avoid taking naps during the day. If you can’t make it through the day without a nap, make sure it is for less than an hour and before 3pm.
  8. Sleep rituals. Develop rituals to remind your body that it is time to sleep, like relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for 15 minutes before bed.
  9. No clock-watching. Checking the clock during the night can wake you up and reinforces negative thoughts such as, “Oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to sleep.”
  10. The right space. Makeyour bed and bedroom quiet and comfortable for sleeping. An eye mask and earplugs may help block out light and noise. 
  11. Keep daytime routine the same. Even if you have a bad night’s sleep, it is important that you try to keep your daytime activities the same as you had planned. That is, don’t avoid activities because you feel tired. This can reinforce the insomnia.

Exercise Tips

  1. Find an enjoyable activity. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Choose a pleasurable activity, like playing badminton or doing yoga. Aim for fun, not more work.
  2. Start small. Commit to 10 minutes of exercise a day or add exercise to your daily routine (like walking to school or doing push-ups in your room).
  3. Get outside. The sun provides a mood “pick me up” of its own, producing serotonin in the brain. Take a walk outside or go swimming.
  4. Schedule it in. It’s easy to skip exercise when we don’t plan. Put it in your phone as part of your daily to-do’s and celebrate when you check it off.
  5. Mix it up. To avoid feeling bored with exercise, try a number of different activities.
  6. Team up. Depression can be isolating. Ask others to do team activities or find an exercise buddy for accountability and to increase social interaction.
  7. Minimize equipment.  Equipment can be expensive. Identify activities that don’t require you to have equipment or facilities, like walking, running, or dancing.
  8. Follow your energy. If your energy fluctuates throughout the day, try to plan to exercise when your energy is at its peak. Alternatively, exercise when feeling sluggish for an energy boost.
  9. Set goals. Achieving goals improves mood and self-esteem. Set specific achievable exercise goals and reward yourself when you accomplish them.

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Last Updated: 1/14/21