Healthy Sleep Habits
This information is intended as a general introduction to this topic. As each person is affected differently by balance and dizziness problems, speak with your health care professional for individual advice.
Sleep is essential for health and wellbeing. Disrupted sleep, however, is related to some conditions that cause dizziness including concussion and vestibular migraine. Sleep disruption has also been linked to reduced ability to control posture and balance - this increases falls risk.
Tips to improve sleep include:
- Get plenty of natural light in the daytime.
- Get at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity during the day.
- Avoid evening naps.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals within 4-6 hours of bedtime. A small protein snack before you go to bed may help promote sleep.
- Avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime. Artificial light from these devices may interfere with brain chemicals that promote sleep.
- Keep your phone or laptop out of the bedroom. You don’t want to be disturbed by calls, texts or other notifications (or tempted to look at them) while you’re sleeping.
- If you need to get up frequently at night to use the bathroom, work towards a solution with your physician. Doing pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) may help.
- Learn strategies to fall back to sleep quickly – for example, refrain from checking the time.
- Keep your bedroom at the optimum temperature for a good sleep (between about 15C to 19C).
- Orient your bed for quick and easy access to the toilet and wear uncomplicated nightclothes.
- It you are a light sleeper, earplugs or a sound machine that generates neutral or natural sounds can help block out distracting noises.
- Experiment to find the best pillow for you. Just like running shoe styles, there is no one-size-fits all solution.
- Create a sleep routine. If you regularly have trouble falling or staying asleep, talk to your family doctor (alternatives to sleep medications include cognitive behavioural therapy).
- If you have restless legs talk to your family doctor – medication may help control the symptoms.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
The following can offer more help and support for affected individuals and their families.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Patient Information
Links to three websites with information for the general public.
Canadian Sleep Society
Get information about sleep and sleep disorders, find books on sleep authored by Canadian experts, and get current scientific and clinical developments concerning the screening, diagnosis, and management of insomnia.
Looking at a cellphone or computer at night can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. f.lux is a simple app for Mac, Windows, and Linux computers that effectively deals with this problem by making the colour of the screen adapt to the time of day. At sunset, the display will mimic nature, gradually warming up the colours and greatly reducing glare.
Kelty’s Key: Insomnia
Studies indicate that online therapy can be as effective as face-to-face therapy. This free program Vancouver Coastal Health program to learn how to sleep well again is based on well-researched cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
National Sleep Foundation
An American foundation dedicated to improving health and wellbeing through sleep education and advocacy.
Most of the titles listed are available for loan through public libraries in Canada. If your local library does not own a copy, ask for it to be sent from another library through interlibrary loan.
Written by an insomnia specialist at the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who spent almost 20 years treating and researching insomnia.
The author, the medical director of sleep disorders centres in Arizona, covers the basics of sleep disorders.
Written by renowned sleep researcher and founder of the Sleep Research Center at Stanford University.
Andersson G, Titov N. Advantages and limitations of Internet-based interventions for common mental disorders. World Psychiatry: Official Journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). 2014. 13(1), 4-11. Available from: http://bit.ly/2YyEsOm
Brigham and Women's Hospital. Light-emitting e-readers before bedtime can adversely impact sleep. ScienceDaily. 22 December 2014. Available from: http://bit.ly/2YAV8oz
Kim SK et al. Relationship between sleep quality and dizziness. PLoS One. 2018;13(3). 2018 Mar 7. Available from: http://bit.ly/2V6t1vc
Montesinos L et al. Day-to-day variations in sleep quality affect standing balance in healthy adults. Scientific Reports, Vol. 8, Article Number:17504 (2018). Available from: https://go.nature.com/2HYTAyR
What temperature should your bedroom be? National Sleep Foundation. Available from: http://bit.ly/2V440Rz
Page updated September, 2019.