Try these essential pointers to help you nail your sleep hygiene regime and finally get yourself some truly reviving shut eye.
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s falling asleep in-front of the television, checking our Facebook in bed or staying up all night on an epic Netflix binge, we’ve all practised poor sleep hygiene habit from time to time.
Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that dictate your sleep quality, and more often than not can be a collection of bad habits that are reinforced over the years (and decades).
So why is an A-game sleep hygiene routine so important? Quality sleep is the ultimate mind, body and spirit tonic, playing a vital role in general well-being. Getting enough quality and health-giving rest and recuperation at night can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life.
Sleep is involved in growth and development of the body, healing and repair, and maintaining a healthy balance of hormones in the body. Studies also show that sleep helps our brain to function properly, improving our cognitive abilities and our ability to learn properly.
The good news is we can all improve our sleep quality and nail our sleep hygiene routine by making minor adjustments to our lifestyle and attitude.
- Obey your body clock The brain controls our body clock’s sleep wake cycle. Getting a good nights sleep means working with your body clock and not against it.
- Try to get up at the same time every day – soon this can help us ‘set’ our body clocks;
- Don’t try to ignore tiredness;
- Don’t go to bed if you don’t feel tired as this can reinforce bad habits such as lying awake. (We’ve all been there.)
- Feng Shui your sleep environment Well maybe not Feng Shui, but there are little things you can do to improve your sleep environment. This includes the basics like investing in the right mattress suited to you and making sure the room is at the right temperature.
What is also important is making sure you limit you bedroom for sleeping. If you watch TV or talk on the phone for hours your mind can associate the bedroom with activity, which can have a disastrous affect on your quality of sleep.
- Avoid chemical stimulants
- Cigarettes – smokers claim that it helps them relax but nicotine is a stimulant which can keep us up for longer;
- Alcohol – is a depressant which means that it slows our nervous system – drinking before bed can help us doze off but it can disturb our sleep wake cycle and we won’t feel refreshed in the morning;
- Sleeping pills – can cause side effects of day time sleepiness;
- Caffeine - Avoid things such as caffeine close to bed time.
- Stay away from technology before bedtime Avoid using phones, and watching TV prior to sleep as the brightness in the technology can stimulate the brain. Studies have tested the effects of bright tablets (e.g. ipads) and laptop screens for up to 5 hours before bed. It seems that the natural evening rise in melatonin (a hormone that makes us ready for sleep) is not affected by 1 hour of bright screen light, but it is after 1.5 hours. So be sure to limit technology use before bedtime as it can affect our sleep pattern.
- Limit daytime naps to 30 mins We all love a good siesta from time to time, but be sure to keep this short. A short nap (20-30mins) can help leave us feeling recharged, and improve our alertness and performance without feeling groggy or interrupting our nighttime sleep.
- Exercise to promote a good sleep Exercise can improve sleep quality and increase sleep duration. Not only that but it can also strengthen circadian rhythms and promote daytime alertness. There have been studies shown that individuals who exercise at least 6 hours before they sleep can improve their sleep quality. Also exercise has been shown to improve sleep for those who suffer from sleeping disorders such as insomnia, and sleep apneas.