Home Health & Hospice

Q: What are some behavioral techniques to promote healthy sleeping habits?

Homecare Insider, December 9, 2013

Q: What are some behavioral techniques I can share with my patients to promote healthy sleeping habits?

A: Often times simple behavioral techniques can be implemented to improve sleeping, reducing the need to additional medications. Here are five strategies you can implement with your patients today:

  • Help the patient establish a regular bedtime routine. Following a bedtime routine is one of the best ways to promote good sleep. Assist the patient in setting a regular time for going to bed and instruct him or her to follow a regular pattern in preparing for bed.
  • Encourage daily exercise. Exercise promotes a deeper level of sleep at night. However, exercise should be avoided for about two hours before bedtime because of its stimulating effect.
  • Recommend a bedtime snack. Certain carbohydrates, found in foods such as bread or pasta, release a chemical in the brain that promotes sleepiness—this is why we often feel tired after a meal. Consuming bread or warm milk before bedtime can help a patient fall asleep more easily.
  • Ensure that the patient finds the bed comfortable. It is difficult to sleep in an uncomfortable bed. If the patient complains that the bed is too hard or soft, see whether the bed can be adjusted.
  • Encourage the patient to lower lights when sleeping. People sleep better when there is very little light. Often, some light is needed to prevent disorientation and falls, but instruct the patient to try to avoid the use of bright lights.