Sleep hygiene is a term that refers to everyday behaviors that help people sleep well at night. The goal of good sleep hygiene is to create deep, continuous sleep at night while maintaining high energy levels during the day. When you feel drowsy during the day, it means that you’re not receiving enough sleep at night and may be carrying forward some sleep debt. Good sleep habits are just as important as good nutrition and fitness. Some strategies offer immediate payoffs; others may take a little time before better sleep kicks in. Follow these strategies to improve your overall sleep hygiene and sleep better at night.
Scheduling and Light
Your body loves repetition when it comes to sleep. Keeping a steady, consistent sleep schedule is one of the best ways to improve sleep hygiene. Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time every morning—including weekends and your days off. This helps your body release sleep-related hormones at the right time and keeps your circadian rhythm (otherwise known as your biological clock) on point. Light exposure can impact your sleep schedule. Try to keep your bedroom dark at night to remind your body that it’s bedtime. Giving your body a dose of morning sunshine tells your brain that it’s time to get going. If possible, try to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each morning starting within half an hour of getting up.
Getting Cozy in the Bedroom
Your sleeping area should also reflect good sleep hygiene. Keep your bedroom quiet; one exception, though, is that some people prefer the soothing sound of white noise to help them sleep. If necessary, a nightshade and ear plugs can help block out unwanted light and noise. Your bedroom should also be comfortably cool. Overly warm temperatures will make you toss and turn. Rid your bedroom of potential allergens that can cause itching and sneezing. Fragrance-free detergent for your sheets is one option. You might also consider relegating the family pet to another room in the house, if their presence causes disturbance.
Creating Bedtime Rituals
Relaxing activities can help prepare your body and your mind for a good night’s sleep. Examples of preferred activities include taking a warm bath a couple of hours before bedtime, stretching, listening to relaxing music, or meditating. Deep breathing or praying might feel nice for some people. Others choose to infuse their bedroom with pleasant scents, such as lavender. Certain bedtime snacks can help your body release sleep-related hormones. Good options include cheese and crackers, banana and peanut butter, or low-fat cheese and turkey.
Some activities are counter-productive to good sleep hygiene. Avoid exercising right before bedtime, since this can make your body and mind feel more alert. Heavy meals can kick your digestive system into high gear, resulting in disturbed sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, since these both interfere with a good night’s sleep. Although drinking water is normally a good choice, too much water at night can result in unwanted bathroom visits, which disturb sleep. Avoid watching TV or using digital devices, since these interfere with your body’s natural sleep mechanisms. Stressful activities, such as paying bills, should also be avoided.
Article written by Optisom.