It’s no surprise that people all need a good night’s sleep. Sleep is when the brain cleans itself, when it can process what you did during the day, and when bodies can recover. It’s also not surprising that sleep can often be hard to find and that there may be periods in your life when it is hard to get a good night’s sleep. This has an impact on physical, mental, and emotional health. It is hard to face challenges and stay calm with little sleep, not to mention weakening immune systems and generally having more accidents as a result of sleep-deprived clumsiness.
Sleep hygiene might not be a term you have come across before, but it is a useful one to describe healthy sleep habits and ways to regularly get a good night’s sleep. This post looks into some ways you can implement sleep hygiene into your own life.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
As mentioned above, sleep hygiene is about creating or having healthy sleep habits. This might be about your bedroom setup and the activities you do as part of a bedtime routine; however, it can also be habits that you form during the day and the types of food and drink you consume. Creating and following good habits will hopefully improve your ability to fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.
You might have fallen into bad habits that repeat a cycle of poor sleep, or you might be going through a period of change in your life that contributes to a lack of sleep. It doesn’t matter why you have bad sleep hygiene; the important point is trying to change it.
Insomnia is a serious condition. As mentioned above, lack of sleep can impact every aspect of your life and seriously harm your mental and physical health. You have insomnia if you regularly wake up repeatedly in the night, find it hard to fall asleep, fail to nap even if you are tired, and lie awake at night (among other symptoms). If this happens for less than three months, then you have short-term insomnia, and over three months is called long-term insomnia. Altering your sleep habits and improving your sleep hygiene can help, but what benefits you most will vary from person to person. If you have tried to alter your sleep habits, but your condition is not improving, you should look into other methods and treatments. Talking to your doctor about your medical options can be a good place to start. Talking and cognitive behavioral therapy are commonly recommended for people suffering from long-term insomnia. You could also look into other treatments, such as hypnosis which is available at Hypnosis for Insomnia, which might work for you.
Sleep Hygiene Methods
Stress is linked to the ability to sleep, and the problem is often cyclical. When people are worried about something, it keeps them awake at night, which means their bodies are more susceptible to stress, so people worry more. Following relaxing techniques during the day, as well as finding some for bedtime, can help a lot. You should try to find a hobby you enjoy and make time for that regularly – twice a week if you can’t do it daily. Mindfulness techniques are also useful for making people stop and be aware of the world outside their heads. Finding a relaxation technique for bedtime, such as a focused sleep meditation, can help to calm you down before bed.
Yes, exercise is touted as the solution to everything. However, getting enough exercise during the day can ensure that you are tired enough to sleep at night. If you can find something outdoors to do, you will also benefit from being outside – both in nature and getting exposed to natural light, which can help to set circadian rhythms.
Once you have established a bedtime routine that you enjoy, try to follow it consistently. Going to sleep and waking up at the same times daily can help establish your routine and train your body to expect sleep at certain times. Having a bedtime routine for going to sleep will also help with this. You are establishing a pattern of behavior that your brain and body will start to automatically follow. Try a relaxing activity, such as taking a bath, stretching, meditating, listening to music, or reading a book – you can decide when this works best for you, before or after cleaning yourself and brushing your teeth.
Your sleep environment is going to be unique to you, and you should spend some time making it perfect. You should consider the quality of your mattress – this is a significant player in how well you sleep. You might also want to consider the temperature of the room; perhaps you actually need it a bit cooler to sleep. You should think about your bedding too – sometimes a duvet might be too heavy and restrict movement when asleep, so multiple blankets might be a better option for you.
Items in our room can also have a surprising impact on our sleep – if you find it hard to unwind, consider what you can see when lying in bed. Do you find it hard to shut down because your eyes constantly fall on clutter or knickknacks, or would you fall asleep more easily if you position holiday souvenirs that remind you of wonderful times?
Caffeine and large amounts of sugar should clearly be avoided before bed, but pay more attention to what you are consuming in the evening and afternoon – it might be that something has higher energy levels than you previously thought and is keeping you up. You might also need to stop intake earlier than you think – caffeine can disrupt your sleep if taken in the 6 hours before bedtime. Try to avoid large meals before bed – you should feel satiated but not stuffed. Meals that are high in salt, such as a meal at a restaurant, may also increase your thirst overnight, which could disrupt your sleep – so remember to drink lots of water if you eat out.
Sleep deprivation is no joke, and you should try to take active steps to promote good sleep in your life. If your lack of sleep is caused by outside factors, such as a change in job schedule or disruption with a child, then make sure you factor in time to nap and get the extra support that you will need to cope. Hopefully, all you will need is to change a few habits to get your sleep back on track, but remember to consult a medical professional if your lack of sleep is affecting your life or if it has been going on for more than a few months.
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