A Helpful Guide to a Better Night’s Sleep
Scientific research shows that sleep is vital for powering your mind and recharging nearly every system in your body. As much as we would all love restful, uninterrupted sleep each night, there are many factors that can keep us tossing and turning – from work related stress to unexpected changes in your life. While it may not be possible to control these factors, it is possible to make small changes and adopt healthier sleep habits to improve your overall “sleep hygiene”.
Read on to discover 4 ways you can develop better sleep hygiene to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Sleep Hygiene Tip 1: Create a More Restful Bedroom Environment
It may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked: The environment in which you sleep can greatly affect the quality of your sleep. To design a more restful bedroom, consider the following:
- Choose a high-quality mattress and pillows that are best suited to your unique needs and body type. A good, comfortable mattress and pillow can go a long way in providing proper support for your spine and helping to reduce aches and pains in the morning.
- Keep external noise to a minimum. If you’re finding it difficult to eliminate nearby sources of noise, consider drowning them out with earplugs, headphones, or a Sound Machine.
- Avoid light disruption. Excess light can interfere with your circadian rhythm and disrupt your internal clock. Consider a sleep mask or blackout curtains if you find you’re having trouble blocking out external sources of light.
- Try a relaxing scent. Consider incorporating an Aromatherapy Diffuser into your bedtime routine to create a more calming environment that stimulates relaxation and sleep.
Sleep Hygiene Tip 2: Adopt a Sleep Schedule
Creating and sticking to a proper sleep schedule is a great way to take control of your sleep health. To get started in creating yours, take these simple steps:
- Set a fixed bedtime and wake-up time. Going to bed and waking up at different times can confuse your body’s internal clock. Pick both a bedtime and wake-up time and stick to them every day to get your body accustomed to a healthy sleep routine.
- Practice healthy napping. Napping for too long or too close to your bedtime can interfere with your sleep schedule. If you’re in need of a nap, choose to do so in the early afternoon and for a maximum duration of 30 minutes.
- Make small changes to your schedule. If you need to adjust your sleep schedule, it’s best to gradually work towards your desired outcome, shifting your bedtime or wake-up time by a maximum of 1 hour per day.
Sleep Hygiene Tip 3: Incorporate a Healthier Pre-Bedtime Routine
- Take 30 minutes to wind down. Whether by reading a book or doing some light stretches, a relaxing half-hour activity can help put your mind at ease and in the right frame for sleep.
- Unplug from technology. The light produced by digital devices such as phones, tablets, and computers suppress your natural melatonin, making it harder to wind down.
- Dim the lights. Lowering the lights in your room will help stimulate your body’s melatonin, a hormone that encourages relaxation and sleep.
Sleep Hygiene Tip 4: Foster Healthier Habits During the Day
What you do during the day will directly impact the way you feel at night. Take these steps during your waking hours to lay the foundation for a better night’s rest.
- Enjoy some morning light. Getting a dose of light early on in the day will help regulate your internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night. If natural light is not possible (e.g. in the winter months) consider trying light therapy, which employs the use of Wake-Up Lights to help normalize your circadian rhythms.
- Get moving. Regular daytime exercise can help promote better sleep. Just be sure to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, which can hinder your ability to fully relax.
- Watch what you eat and drink. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t go to bed hungry or full, as the discomfort will tend to keep you awake. Additionally, avoid caffeine and alcohol too late in the day, which can overstimulate your body and/or lower the quality of your sleep.
Know When to Speak to a Doctor
If you’re having serious difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep, or you feel overly fatigued during the day, it may be time to consult your physician. Your doctor is in the best position to diagnose a sleep disorder that may be taking a toll on your physical and mental health without you even knowing. Be sure to contact your health care provider if your sleep problems are getting worse, persisting over a long-term, or affecting your ability to perform everyday tasks.