The Importance of Sleep Hygiene
If you have never heard of sleep hygiene before then you may be wondering, What is Sleep Hygiene? In short, sleep hygiene is the habits and practices to ensure you have a restful sleep at bedtime.
A good night time ritual is a critical part of ensuring you fall asleep and stay asleep. Healthy sleep ensures good mental, physical and emotional health. Your bed time rituals are even more important if you suffer from any sleep disorders which disrupt your nightly sleep. All children and adults can benefit from good sleep habits.
So how can you improve your sleep hygiene? Start by spending the appropriate amount of time in bed. Too much or too little can hinder your association with the bed and sleep. Working while laying in bed is not recommended. Some additional guidelines include:
Limit napping to 30 minutes and daytime. If you nap to close to bedtime then you may have trouble falling asleep at your normal time or staying asleep. Once your rhythm is disrupted then it can take some work to get back on track. However, napping can be very good and help to improve mood, alertness and performance during the day.
Avoid stimulants close to bed time. Coffee and alcohol can have an impact on sleep so avoid coffee and other caffeinated consumption after later afternoon. Additionally, alcohol can affect your second half of the night’s sleep when the body is processing the alcohol.
Exercise can drastically improve your quality of sleep. Aerobic exercise can help you stay in a deep sleep and feel more rested. Walking or any cardio workout for as little as ten minutes can improve your sleep.
Exposure to natural light throughout the day is helpful to the sleep-wake cycle. If you work in an office without much sunlight then make it a habit to get outside for lunch and during break times when possible.
Avoid foods that disrupt sleep such as spicy dishes or indigestion triggering foods for you such as carbonated drinks and fried foods close at dinner time.
A nightly ritual at the same time every night will tell your body and mind it’s time to start winding down and help create expectation for sleep.
Make your sleep environment peaceful and restful. Mattress and pillows should be cleaned and to your comfort level. The bedroom should be cool, between 60 and 67 degrees, for optimal sleep. Ensure light from lamps, cell phones and TV screens are turned off prior to falling asleep. Consider using dark curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, white noise machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices that can make the bedroom more relaxing.
Evaluate your sleep routine and revise your bedtime habits if you are tossing and turning throughout the night. Just a few simple changes can make help you have a good night’s sleep.