Trying to get to sleep may seem easier said than done. Your sleep hygiene, or lack thereof, may be the culprit. No, we aren’t talking about dirty sheets. The American Sleep Association defines sleep hygiene as “behaviors that one can do to help promote good sleep.” (1) No matter how your sleep hygiene is now, we have some easy tips and tricks to get you in tip-top sleeping shape so you can sleep soundly night after night.
Set a Schedule
Sleep hygiene at its core means having a routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help set an “internal clock” in your body. (2) Keeping with a consistent sleep schedule will cue your body to become drowsy around the same time each night to help induce sleep. It will also help prevent grogginess in the morning by naturally waking around the same time each day instead of being jarred awake by an alarm. Whether it’s a warm bath and snuggling with a book to get ready for bed, or a morning dance session and tea to help wake you, find what works for you and stick to it.
Enjoy the Sun
Whether at home, the office or shopping, you get the picture, it is easy to spend most of your day indoors. Make sure to step outside and enjoy some sunlight during the day. Along with enjoying plenty of darkness at night, this will help establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Let the light in as soon as you wake up every morning and use blackout curtains to help make your bedroom the dark sanctuary you need for a good nights rest.
Work It Out
Exercising early, at least three hours before bed, can help you fall asleep faster at night too. Exercise stimulates the body, making you more alert and focused. (3) This is great after a morning workout to help you tackle the rest of your day, but not so great if you are trying to fall asleep in an hour. Lifting weights, swimming and even taking a 15-minute walk during your lunch break will help. Do double duty and workout during the day in the sun to reap all the sleep benefits at night.
A healthy carb dinner, lower in protein and fat, can help keep you full and happy as you start counting sheep. If hunger strikes before bed, turn to foods that promote sleep. Our last post in this series, Food and Herbs for Better Sleep, is a great place to start as it explores different fruits, veggies and herbs you can easily incorporate into your routine. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, which is the opposite of what you need before bed. Though you may think alcohol makes you sleepy, once your body begins to process it the second half of the night you’ll realize you were wrong. To keep your bladder and bowels from interrupting your snooze fest, limit your intake a few hours before bed. Your body and mind will thank you in the morning after a full nights rest.
Screen Time and Bed Time
And screen time? Shut it all down at least an hour before bed. Whether that is your phone, tablet, TV and beyond, shut it down. There are a lot of fun things you can do that don’t include a screen. Read a book. Drink some tea. Have sex. On that note, your bed should only be for sleep and for sex. There is no shame in having sleep and sex game. That is what your bed is for. Nothing else. So unplug and get it on. Seriously, doesn’t that sound more fun?
How does your sleep hygiene stack up? What do you do for a more restful nights sleep? Let us know in the comments below!