Patient Perspective

Healthy Sleep Habits

Article Summary

Getting high-quality sleep, and enough of it, is a useful tool in your vestibular recovery toolbox. When you are well-rested, your body is better prepared to respond to conventional treatment efforts. Sleep deprivation can cause or exacerbate vestibular symptoms. This article gives you tips to help you establish healthy sleep habits.

Take Sleep Seriously

Developing healthy sleep habits is an important part of overall health. The following tips can help you establish habits for better and more consistent sleep.

Standard Sleep Time

  • Establish a regular bed and rise time every day, even on weekends.
  • Allow enough time for sleep so that you wake up refreshed (For adults, 7 – 9 hours is recommended).
  • Consider using a smart watch/app that helps to track your sleep, or a diary of your sleep habits.


  • Caffeinated substances after 2 pm (coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, etc.).
  • Alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Nicotine within a few hours of bedtime.
  • A large meal close to bedtime.
  • Exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Digital devices – Use blue light blockers/glasses for TV, smartphone, computers, or other light producing equipment and do not use electronic devices within one hour of bedtime because it will signal the brain’s pineal gland to stop secreting melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep in response to darkness.

Bed is for Sleeping or Intimate Activities Only

  • Do NOT read, watch TV, use the phone, etc. while in bed.

Prepare for Sleep One Hour Before Bed

  • Lower the amount of light around you
  • Establish a regular routine. Do quiet activities like listening to music, reading with a yellow light, taking a warm shower/bath, etc. Also consider a cup of chamomile or kava tea, which can provide sedative or relaxation effects.
  • Write down a list of your next day activities and leave the paper and your thoughts, planning, worries, etc. in a room outside of your bedroom.

Prepare the Room

  • Cooler (66-68 degrees Fahrenheit) is recommended.
  • Dark (or, use mask) with no night lights (have a flashlight within reach to use if you get out of bed and to use if the power goes out). However, some individuals who experience dizziness may consider the use of a night light to help with using vision to orient themselves if they are unsteady.
  • Control noises that bother you with earplugs or sound screening device (fan, air conditioner, soft sounds like rain, etc.).
  • If you get dizzy when lying flat on your back or with rolling, consider using pillows or a wedge to elevate your head or a large pillow against your side to avoid rolling to the symptomatic side.

Trouble Going to Sleep or Staying Asleep?

  • Consider trying controlled breathing, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, relaxing music, and guided imagery. An app such as Calm or Headspace can help.
  • If you awake in the night and cannot go back to sleep within 20 minutes, get up and do a quiet activity (read or listen to something soothing, warm bath), using a softer light, then go back to bed when you get sleepy.
  • If you have a problem sleeping through the night, stick to waking up at your usual time regardless of the amount of sleep you had the night before. Then, go to bed at your regular time.
  • Consider over-the-counter sleep aids, supplements, or Melatonin. Consult your physician for suggestions.
  • Need a new mattress? Determine how old your mattress is and whether a new mattress may be warranted. Also consider replacing your pillow.
  • Use ear plugs, dark window shades, or eye covers as needed.
  • With chronic insomnia, consider seeking counseling which includes cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Discuss with your physician if any of your current medications may be disrupting your sleep. Ensure that no other medical conditions are affecting your sleep, such as thyroid disorders, mood disorders, hormone imbalances, etc.

Habits to Help During the Day

  • Try to avoid taking a nap. However, if you need to nap, limit it to no more than 20 minutes.
  • Get regular physical activity. Yoga is a routine that can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. For more information on recommended exercise, see the physical activity guidelines for Americans on
  • Strive to get 30 minutes of natural light exposure each day (go outside or open windows/blinds in your home).