Sleep Hygiene to Enhance Your Sleep Quality!
NEED HELP WITH SLEEP? READ ON!
Do you have problem sleeping? Find yourself tossing and turning at night, and even after sleeping you wake up unrefreshed? Before resorting to sleeping pills try some of these sleep hygiene tips out!
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Contrary to the word “hygiene”, the term ‘sleep hygiene’ has nothing to do with how clean your bed is, but is a term used to describe good habits for healthy quality sleep. Not one single sleep hygiene tip is the fix-all, however, the more you implement these tips the more of a long term benefit it will have on your sleep. It is so easy to simply resort to sleeping pills, but these are more of a short-term band-aid to your sleeping issues. It can lead to dependence, and will never train your body to fall asleep on your own. Sleep hygiene is like a jigsaw puzzle – you’ll be rewarded by the full picture when you put the little pieces together. Be patient as you try some of these sleep hygiene tips out, because even if it feels redundant and obvious or too tedious to carry out, it will be well worth it when you start to get that stellar sleep!
Sleep Hygiene Tips
1. Create a comfortable sleeping environment – Set the mood for sleeping! Make sure your mattress, bedding, pillow height and shape, temperature of the room is all set to your comfort! Cool room temperature with warm blankets tend to be the best for most people.
2. Your bed is for sleeping only! – Don’t use your bed to watch TV, study, talk on the phone, eat, work on lap top, pay bills, etc. Keep your bed a sacred place for your sleep and intimacy only!
3. Keep your biorhythm regular! – Our body works like a clock! Try to set a certain time for bed every day, including weekdays and weekends. This is the first step to proper sleep!
4. Establish a set waking up time – Just like setting the time to go to bed, also set the time for getting up every day. Again, we are training your body to get used to sleeping regular.
5. Get up & Try again – After you’ve set the time to get to bed, if you lie in bed and is not able to fall asleep within 20 min, get up and do something relaxing and boring until you feel ready for bed. This does not include watching TV or playing on phone that can stimulate you more. Do things like reading a book or writing a journal etc.
6. Have a sleep ritual – Whether it be couple of stretches on your yoga mat beside your bed, reading a book, doing your prayers, progressive relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, etc., have a regular daily routine that hints at your body that you are getting ready for bed.
7. Avoid stimulants at night (nicotine, caffeine, alcohol) – Caffeine is obvious, but did you now nicotine and alcohol also interfere with sleep? Make sure you refrain from these substances at least 4-6 hours before bed!
8. Take a bath! – Have a hot bath with Epsom salt or your favorite bath bomb 1-2 hours before bed. It raises your body temperature, making you feel sleepy as your body temperature falls again. The Epsom salt helps to relax your body and relieve tension in your body.
9. Exercise more! – Regular exercise during the day has been linked to deeper healthier sleep. Try to refrain from too strenuous exercise 4 hours before bed. Do strenuous workouts earlier in the day, and keep the nighttime to a more movement exercises including yoga, walking, stretching, and tai chi.
10. Have a light snack – No, this is not your excuse to eat the leftover pizza or go for late night happy hour. Eat a small protein source an hour or two before bed to prevent your blood sugar dropping too low at night. The drop in blood sugar will cause panic in your body and wake you up at night.
11. Get some natural light – Getting sleepy while you sunbathe at the beach is not coincidence. Try to go out and get some sunlight during the day – this will help your internal clock process time of the day better, and help regulate sleep!
12. Skip the nap – If you want to feel tired at bed time, then skip the nap during the day! Reach out to Dr. Alice if you absolutely cannot make it through the day without taking a nap. If you must take a nap, make sure it is before 2 pm and is only about 15-30 min.
13. Get rid of the clocks in your room! – Other than the annoying ticking sound of the clock that can drive you nuts, the clock also propels you to constantly watch the clock and get negative thoughts about your sleep. You will start noticing how late it is, and how you are only getting few hours of sleep, and that you will wake up tired. You are already setting your body to wake up feeling tired, and the negative thoughts will keep you up even more.
14. Transfer internal chatter to paper – Keep a journal or a To-Do list where you can write your recurrent thoughts, things to do, stuff to remember the next day, etc., that can really chatter up in your head, preventing you from sleeping. Once your thoughts are transferred to paper and your things-to-do are set in your phone reminders or to-do lists, you can stop thinking about it and clear up your mind for bed.
Be patient with yourself as you carry out some of these sleep hygiene tips! If you want to explore what is sabotaging your sleep, including common causes such as thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue, menopause, insulin resistance, anxiety, etc., call Dr. Alice for a full health evaluation!