How To Improve Your Sleep - 5 Do's And Don'ts Of Sleep Hygiene
Getting a good night's sleep is becoming a luxury in today's world. The hustle culture has engulfed almost every aspect of our lives, blurring the lines between work-life balance and health.
It can be difficult to transition from the stress of a busy day at work to the calm needed for sleep. Even though sleep is crucial for both physical and mental health, it isn't easy nowadays to achieve an adequate sleep of 7-8 hours.
The first thing that is affected by high stress and anxiety levels is sleep since most of us are easily distracted. Paying closer attention to your sleep hygiene is the key to setting up a night of quality sleep.
In this article, we'll discuss the do's and don'ts of sleep hygiene and how to build your sleep schedule.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene, by definition, is the term used to describe healthy sleeping habits or behaviors that will help you improve your ability to fall asleep faster and remain asleep throughout the night. It means having a bedroom environment and a daily routine promoting consistent, uninterrupted sleep.
Adults between 18 and 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Adults over 65 need 7-8 hours.
Keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and building healthy daily habits can all contribute to ideal sleep hygiene. Establishing good and healthy sleep hygiene can impact your quality and quantity of sleep, and it also helps to improve your mental and physical health.
Suggested Read : How Sleep Deprivation Affects Work Performance
Why Is Sleep Hygiene Important?
Sleep is essential for the health of your body. There is a tendency for people to get anxious during quiet and downtime, mostly before or during bedtime. It occurs when you can no longer distract yourself from thoughts and feelings of stress and worry. Additionally, it leads to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, insomnia, interrupted sleep, or shallow, restless sleep.
In the late 1970s, sleep hygiene was developed as a method of helping people with mild to moderate insomnia.
However, a healthy sleep schedule or habit is important for your overall health and helps improve your mental health, productivity level, physical health, and, most importantly, your sleep quality.
Again, lack of sleep can rob you of needed rest, making self-control of your emotions and behavior more difficult. Thus, practicing proper sleep hygiene can help you bring sleep patterns under control. Working at a consistent, stable pattern is critical to your health and well-being.
Remember, adequate rest is a necessity, not a luxury.
How To Improve Your Sleep Hygiene?
You can improve your sleep with small changes in lifestyle habits. Making your sleep environment healthy, developing routines, exercising regularly, and changing your eating habits can improve the quality of your sleep.
32.6% of working adults reported sleeping six or fewer hours per night in 2017-2018, up from 28.4% in 2008-2009.
Putting yourself in the best position to sleep well daily is the essence of good sleep hygiene. The key is to follow a daily routine, keep a nightly schedule, and indulge in a healthy lifestyle. You can improve your sleep hygiene by changing even the smallest habits in your life.
Here are a few smart habits that you can practice to improve your sleep habits -
Creating a healthy sleep environment
Sticking to a consistent sleep and wake-up schedule
Cultivating healthy habits and exercising regularly
Reducing stress elements from your life
Shutting off all electronic devices an hour before your bedtime
The 5 Do's And Don'ts Of Sleep To Maintain Healthy Sleep Hygiene.
It's not uncommon to have ups and downs in your sleep hygiene. And lack of sleep leads to more anxious feelings and a host of other health issues. Sleep hygiene can help you stay healthy by keeping your mind and body rested and strong. In addition, it prevents stages of sleep deprivation from occurring.
However, as long as you're following healthy habits and getting quality sleep, the occasional late-night or interrupted sleep pattern is normal.
Here are five do's to practice to improve your sleep hygiene
1. Keep A Healthy And Consistent Sleep Schedule
Try to go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day. Even if you have trouble falling asleep the night before, try to wake up simultaneously. It will help to maintain your body's natural sleep cycle ( circadian rhythm ).
2. Create A Sleep-friendly And Cozy Environment
Your bedroom and environment play an important role in practicing a proper sleep schedule. Try to keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable and dark enough to facilitate sleep. You can even use earplugs, eye masks, or a white noise machine to eliminate the external noise.
3. Make Your Bedtime Rituals Healthy
You should engage yourself in some bedtime rituals or routines. But the routine should only last for an hour and not more. It is always easier to fall asleep when you have a ritual an hour before bed. It can be either reading a book, taking a warm shower, or practicing light yoga and mindfulness sessions. It should include activities that you will look forward to and at the same time help you keep your mind calm.
4. Train Yourself To Use The Bedroom Only For Sleeping
Make it a habit not to bring all your chores into the bedroom. Keep your bedroom exclusively for bedtime routines. It should be the only room in the house where you sleep. As a result, your brain will be conditioned to associate the bed with sleeping.
Body temperature during sleep drops by one to two degrees fahrenheit5.
It's not a place to go when you're bored. Avoid reading, writing, eating, watching TV, talking on the phone, or playing cards in bed. After 20 minutes, if you are still awake, get up, and relax by doing something else.
5. Practice Mindfulness Or Light Meditation Close To Bedtime
The quality of sleep is more important than the quantity of sleep when it comes to getting a good night's rest. Whenever you struggle to get quality sleep, you can use wellness apps like Vantage Fit, which includes a variety of guided meditation sessions ranging from 5 minutes to 12 minutes.
Start by paying attention to your breathing and sensations in your body. Before going to sleep, try this practice for at least 20 minutes, and you will be able to fall asleep faster and ease your mind.
Here are five don'ts to not practice to improve your sleep hygiene -
1. Don't Nap For Longer Than 30 Minutes
When you're exhausted or tired, you are easily tempted to fall asleep during the day or take an afternoon nap. But making a habit of the same can affect your sleep schedule. Taking a nap longer than 30 minutes can make it harder to fall asleep at night. So avoid taking frequent naps or try to take a 15-minute power nap if you're struggling to keep your eyes open.
2. Avoid Screen Time Before Bedtime
Avoiding electronic devices before bedtime is one of the most effective ways to fall asleep. It has been proven that the blue light of mobiles and other electronic devices can interrupt your natural circadian rhythm. The blue light from computer, TV, and phone screens keeps your body awake. However, If you need to use your computer or phone at night, use the "night shift" mode on your phone or wear blue light glasses while using it.
3. Avoid Intaking Caffeine After Your Lunch or Before Dinner
Try not to drink or eat caffeine items after lunch or before dinner. Caffeinated beverages and foods can interfere with the sleep cycle and make it difficult for you to fall asleep, and it can cause you to wake up during the night and cause a night of shallow sleep.
Even consuming caffeine early in the day can disrupt nighttime sleep and hinder your average amount of sleep.
A study found that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime reduced total sleep time by 1 hour
4. Try To Avoid Heavy Meals Before Bedtime
Try eating a substantial meal up to three hours before bedtime to avoid heartburn and insomnia. Try a low-calories snack with complex carbohydrates if you feel hungry at night. Try low-fat milk with whole grain cereal, whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter, or yogurt with half a banana.
5. Avoid Engaging In Smoking, Heavy Drinking, Or Taking Pills
Getting some sleep doesn't necessarily require drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills. While it helps you fall asleep faster, it also makes it harder to stay asleep. The natural sleep cycle of your body is interfered with by alcohol.
Smoking is no different. If you smoke regularly or rely on nicotine for comfort when it gets heavy, falling asleep will become more difficult. Cigarettes contain nicotine, a stimulant that inhibits sleep.
Suggested Read : The Negative Effects Of Smoke Breaks At Work And Ways To Reduce Them
Summing It Up
Thus, good sleep hygiene involves optimizing your environment and habits to get better sleep. However, the same may not be beneficial for everyone. Since there is no “one size fits all'' concept for sleep hygiene, you should try out the different do”s and don't’s before deciding which one works for you.
Changing your habits and getting a good night's sleep may not be enough to resolve your sleep disorders. It is best to consult your doctor or health care provider for medical advice if you suffer from sleep apnea or a chronic sleep disorder.
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