10 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
The way you form your sleep habits are essential to your quality slumbers.
Is there such a thing as sleep hygiene? Turns out, there is. Your morning naps, evening habits and bedtime rituals that can ultimately affect your sleep are all embroiled under this term. The National Sleep Foundation makes a short, accurate definition: “Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good night time sleep quality and full daytime alertness.”
Just like taking care of your oral health or getting your body fit, your sleep hygiene affects your overall Zzzs. Whether if you're one who's willing to pull up all-nighters or has a timely schedule for hitting the sack, your sleep hygiene can positively or negatively affect the quality of your naps, your daytime alertness, and your overall health. Make sure you're practicing good habits. Considering changes? Here's your sleep hygiene checklist for better sleep.
Use natural light
Natural light is a miraculous wonder. For one, it’s a potent source for Vitamin D, which helps in keeping your immune system in tip-top shape, as well as pave the way for your body’s absorption of calcium necessary for achieving bone mass. Two, soaking in the sunlight also helps in making you alert. It naturally triggers your sleep-wake cycle, compared to artificial, indoor light, which is essential in telling your body the right hours to take naps.
Limit daytime naps
Tired? You can take naps, but limit them up to 30 minutes. Naps are proven to help mood, boost memory and give you the perk-up you need in the middle of the day, just as when you’re having a downward slump. It doesn’t, however, help in making up for your night’s lost sleep, as it derails your body’s circadian rhythm, making it harder for you to sleep at night. At best, avoid taking naps 4 p.m. onwards so you can have quality snoozes.
Exercise promote restful Zzzs, as long as you do it in the right time. When you work out, your body secretes the hormone cortisol, which is associated with stress. That's because it activates the body's own alerting mechanism. You don't want to feel alert at bedtime, so make sure you do your runs on the treadmill three hours before bed.
Lighten up on night-time meals
We get it; night time is your time to recuperate, and when you're sat on your sofa, watching your favourite show, you may not be able to help yourself from munching on that cheeseburger. This might affect your overall sleep, says Harvard. At best, finish your dinner a few hours before bedtime. Make sure to avoid foods that can cause indigestion. Looking for better food choices before bedtime? We have some suggestions.
Avoid taking stimulants close to bedtime
Traditionally, alcohol is known to make you sleep faster. That might not be the real case. The depressants in the alcohol (as well as other stimulants containing caffeine and nicotine, among others) can threaten your quality sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drinking alcohol can affect your delta activity, which is the sleep's part of memory formation and learning. It can also block REM sleep and can aggravate breathing disorders during your snoozes. Plus, how can one sleep if they keep heading to the bathroom? The solution is to avoid these drinks altogether and stick to water.
Hands off the gadgets
Watching television or checking your Instagram feed at night before bedtime may not be the best idea. The intensity of light coming from the screens trick your brain into thinking it's daytime. Plus, any ping of notification excites you and keeps you alert. Tuck away all those gadgets an hour before bed and replace them with soothing aromatherapy candles to welcome the feeling of sleep.
Keep your space dark
Sunlight triggers your body's wake cycle, and darkness triggers sleep. When it's dark, your body produces melatonin, which signals the brain to relax and drift into a peaceful nod. To achieve that, turn off all electronics, spread the curtains, and at best, slip into an eye mask to keep out the unnecessary light. Another tip? Keep your room cool, as your body falls asleep much easier on cold temperature.
Use the right pillows
People sleep differently. You could be a side-sleeper, or you choose to snooze with your back laid flat on the mattress. Having the right pillows help you sleep according to your position without the aches and cramps when you wake up. Differently-sized pillows are made for various sleepers; make sure to find the right length and loft that will suit your body’s needs.
Understand how much sleep you need
On an average, humans are required to sleep 8 hours a day. Adults may require much less – 6 to 7 hours may be enough the achieve a quality slumber. Children require much more; elementary kids need at least 10 hours of sleep while teenagers are best with 9 hours of snooze. Do not oversleep; this will make you feel more tired in the morning. The rule of the thumb here is restful sleep, not the number of hours. If you slept for 6.5 hours and felt energized the next morning, you’ve had quality sleep, and that could be thanks to a better sleep hygiene.
Follow a bedtime schedule
Do your rituals and be consistent with it. This includes taking a nice, warm bath, reading a book, meditating, and getting into your beauty routine. At best, do this at the same time, every night to develop a proper bedtime schedule.
Get the right sleep you need with an improved sleep hygiene. Use these tips in getting quality snoozes and achieve better mornings as you wake up to seize the day!