Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to sleep. Tossing and turning. Your mind is racing, going over everything that happened today. Do night noises keep you awake. What can you do?
From having occasional difficulty sleeping to insomnia, there is a lot you can do to get a better night’s sleep, feel refreshed when you awake, and remain alert throughout the day. It’s called “sleep hygiene” and refers to those practices, habits, and environmental factors that are critically important for sound sleep. And most of it is under your control. Read on and learn some strategies to sleep well.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe good sleep habits. The promotion of good sleep hygiene involves a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness.
For most people, leading a healthy lifestyle is associated with familiar concepts like balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and stress management. Less familiar, but equally important is sleep hygiene. Sleep is so necessary to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing that establishing good sleep habits is essential to good health. And that is the essence of sleep hygiene.
What are some examples of good sleep hygiene?
Good “hygiene” is anything that helps you to have a healthy life. Sleep hygiene helps you stay healthy by keeping your mind and body rested and strong. The most important sleep hygiene measure is to maintain a regular wake and sleep pattern seven days a week. It is also important to spend an appropriate amount of time in bed, not too little, or too excessive. Here are some tips for how you can improve your sleep hygiene:
Sleep Hygiene 101
1. Avoid napping during the day. It can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
2. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
3. Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be done in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
4. Food can be disruptive right before sleep. Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems. If you are already struggling with a sleep problem, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
5. Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
8. Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
Do You Have Good Sleep Hygiene?
Any one of these sleep hygiene basics is good sleep advice, but together, they holistically support your body’s need for quality sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene and you’ll become a world-class sleeper!