Sleep Hygiene for your zzzz’s

If you are having trouble with falling asleep or staying asleep maybe your sleep hygiene needs some TLC? No, this doesn’t mean that you need to clean yourself better before you go to bed.

Sleep hygiene is the habits we create in the hours leading up to our sleep time. If we think back to before we had electricity and how that may have been, we could imagine families spending time together, no televisions, no internet, no phones. Once it was dark they went to bed. Candles were probably a luxury for many.

These days many of us have created habits that we feel we need to wind down, when in actual fact they interfere with our hormonal and biochemical controls which promote sleep. The things we tend to rely on usually include television, phones, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate or sweets. Though all of these things actually simulate our system in one way or another hindering our beauty sleep.

If you want to flip to some new rituals so you can get the most out of your sleep time here are some sleep hygiene tips to start today.

Listen to your body clock

Go to bed at night when you feel tired. It sounds simple, though how many of us push through to watch that one more episode on Netflix, only to be watching it through our eyelids at the end?

Set a routine

Have a regular go to bed time and wake up time. The routine will help to set your body clock and soon you will be feeling tired at the same time each night.

If you fail – try again

If you can’t fall asleep after 20-30 minutes in bed, get up and move yourself to another quite, dark room and sit down for a while. Once you feel sleepy go back to bed. As important sleep is for our body, we can still benefit from rest, so take the time out until you are ready to back to bed.

Set up the sleep environment

Make sure your bedroom is dark to encourage the body clock to know it is time to rest. Have all distractions out of the bedroom. This includes removing laptops, mobile phones and televisions. If you have a clock in the room, cover it up so you are not looking at the time all night. Make sure your bed, as well as your pillow are comfortable.

Eating before bed

It’s important to not go to bed hungry, though ensure you have had dinner at least 2 hours before bed time to allow for sufficient digestion. Maybe a small snack after dinner if you are still hungry, check out our blog on foods for sleep for some good suggestions.

Avoid caffeine, sugar, smoking and alcohol before bed. While alcohol may make it seem easier to fall asleep it can interfere with your ability to stay asleep and increase health problems such as sleep apnoea and snoring.

Limit your naps

Avoid large sleeps through the day so it does not interfere with your body clock signals. If getting through the days seems too much to handle, a short nap may be needed. Napping will never make up for lost sleep at night time, though it has been found that 15-20 minutes can increase alertness, mood and performance.

Make sleep rituals

Do relaxing rituals to teach your body it’s time to wind down. This may be some mediation, yoga or taking a lovely bath.

If you are a night-time worrier, make a time before bed to write down your worries.  Once in bed if you start worrying, stop and remind yourself that you have already had your worry time. Writing it down can often allow permission to ourselves to remove it from our mind.

Exercise

Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Though make sure all strenuous activity is completed at least 4 hours before bed.

 

By Tanya Jones