Also known as poor sleep habits, Inadequate Sleep Hygiene involves everyday activities that might otherwise be harmless if they did not interfere with sleep. They may keep you from falling asleep on time at night or keep you from sleeping soundly. As a result of these habits, you feel unrefreshed if not sleepy during the day. Bad sleep hygiene generally entails a number of practices that provide an immediate benefit, such as the use of caffeine to get through an evening event. Unfortunately, the consequences last much longer.

Sleep-Related Features  
The sleep-related features of Inadequate Sleep Hygiene do one of three things: impose sleep at the wrong time, impose wakefulness at the wrong time, or bring disorder to the timing of sleep. Some people engage in more than one type of bad habit.

Inappropriate Sleep. Too many daytime naps keep some people awake, especially if individual naps last longer than 20-30 minutes or there are more than one or two. Fifteen minutes is an ideal nap time. No naps should be taken if insomnia exists. The use of alcohol or recreational drugs imposes daytime sleepiness.

Inappropriate Wakefulness. Engaging in stimulating activities in the hours before bedtime makes it difficult for the body to relax enough for sleep. Intense exercise has this affect. Exposure to bright light such as a computer screen or large screen television stimulates the brain into behaving as if it is morning. Drinking caffeine in the afternoon or evening might feel as if it wears off by late evening, but the half-life of this drug may stimulate the brain for 12 to 15 hours after ingestion. Alcohol, a depressant capable of precipitating daytime sleepiness, can cause “rebound wakefulness” when it wears off, which is stronger than just waking up. Some behaviors that promote unintended sleep disruption seem out of control to those engaging in them. Stress, anxiety and excessive worry are leading causes of insomnia.

Circadian Disruption. Behaviors likely to interfere with a regular pattern of sleep tend to go unnoticed. You may not go to bed at the same time each night or engage in activities such as reading or writing after getting into bed. You might even spend too much time in bed. Conversely, as the result of shift work you might divide your sleep into sections, which decreases the likelihood of getting enough deep sleep. Long term use of caffeine, alcohol or recreational drugs not only precipitates inappropriate sleep or wakefulness but shifts the timing of sleep.

    Diagnosis rarely involves an overnight sleep study. A doctor or sleep specialist can best diagnose Inadequate Sleep Hygiene with a sleep diary that details your sleep habits and the timing of all instances that your sleep.

  Medication is not used to treat this disorder. Treatment involves replacing bad sleep habits with good ones. If additional stress or anxiety is part of the problem, then relaxation techniques or psychotherapy may help.

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