Quality sleep is essential for a healthy mind and body. While life’s challenges such as stress, responsibilities or even illness, may disrupt our rest, improving your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night can be done by focusing on your sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is a set of habits and practices that can help you sleep well on a regular basis. Sleep hygiene encompasses both environment and habits, and it can pave the way for higher-quality sleep and better overall health. Getting healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health, improving productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone, from children to older adults, can benefit from better sleep, and sleep hygiene can play a key part in achieving that goal. Read along for some helpful tips to enhance your sleep hygiene!
Stick to a sleep schedule
The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is 7 to 9 hours, so you should set aside that much time amount of time each night for sleep. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekend. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Try to do things that are relaxing before heading to bed. For instance, a warm beverage (without caffeine), a relaxing bath, some meditation, or time with a book can help calm your mind and body and get you ready for sleep.
Create a restful environment
The environment you sleep in is important and an integral part of how you can improve you sleep hygiene. You want to create a relaxing and quiet environment that’s a comfortable temperature for sleep. Typically, it can be hard to fall asleep when it’s warm, so consider turning down the temperature a bit before you head to bed.
A bedroom that is dark is also important part of getting a good sleep. Hang blinds or curtains that keep the light out and turn bright clocks, lights on phone chargers, and other light sources down or position them away from you during the night.
Limit screen time before bed
Many of us are in a habit to watch TV or scroll on our phones to unwind before bed. However, looking at bright screens right before bed can actually make it more difficult to fall asleep. This is because the blue light that is emitted from phones, tablets, and other devices blocks a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin makes you feel tired. This means it will be harder to fall asleep if you’ve just spent time looking at a screen. Try avoiding the use of electronic devices at least an hour before bed.
Pay attention to what you eat and drink
Try not to go to bed either hungry or stuffed – the feeling of either discomfort can keep you awake. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too: the stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can interfere with sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
Include physical activity in your daily routine
One of the best ways to improve your sleep hygiene is to be active during the day. If you exercise regularly, your body is more likely to be tired in the evening and that will make it easier to sleep. However, you might want to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as this may have a stimulatory effect and produce hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline, which can make it tougher to fall asleep.
If you can exercise outdoors, you’ll have the added bonus of getting some sunlight as well. Being exposed to sunlight during the day helps build a healthy circadian rhythm, and that will make it easier to sleep at night.
Know when to contact your health care provider
If you are routinely having difficulty sleeping, or if you are feeling sluggish, tired, or unwell despite getting enough sleep each night, it’s a good idea to contact your health care provider. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.
By incorporating these small changes into your sleep routine, you can allow your body to get the rest and recovery time it needs to live a healthy life. If you are trying to change your lifestyle, good sleep hygiene is the foundation you need to support your goals!