Sleep. It’s essential for the human body. While we sleep our bodies and minds recharge. Without it, our brains can’t function properly. But, what happens when you can’t get a good night’s sleep? Whether the problem is falling asleep, staying asleep, or not getting enough sleep, recurring sleep trouble can have negative long-term effects on your overall health. Overtime, a bad sleep can mean weakened concentration and memory, immune strength, and an increased risk of heart disease.
If you’re struggling with sleep health or maybe just want to get the most out of your sleep and keep a consistent routine, there’s good news! The practice of sleep hygiene is scientifically-backed and has been used for decades to promote healthy sleep. The principle behind the practice of sleep hygiene is that with the right environment and consistent daily routine there is a higher chance you’ll sleep better at night. (Source). Below are some tips you can use to create the ideal setting and mindset to catch some ZZ’s.
- Create a bedtime routine. Prepare your body for sleep by engaging in relaxing activities you enjoy about one hour before bed. Reading, meditating, taking a warm bath or shower, writing, or listening to calming music are a few ways you can prep your body for the transition from wake to sleep.
- Set the mood. A bedtime routine helps your body transition to sleep, but in order to sleep well, you need an environment to dream. With few exceptions, your bed should only be used for sleeping–not eating, working, or watching TV. This helps to program your mind into associating your bed with a place of rest.
- Get comfortable. While the perfect pillow and mattress will be different for each of us, it’s important to have these essential items suited to your liking. That, plus keeping the bedroom dark, quiet and at a cooler temperature will let your body know it’s time to rest.
- Unplug and shutdown screens. The blue light emitted from our devices, televisions, games, and social feeds stimulate the brain and restrain hormones that directly impact our bodies sleep cycle. This means that even if we’re tired, our bodies will have trouble physically shutting down, ultimately delaying the end goal of sleep. Try to turn off your devices at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants late in the day. Consuming anything with caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, or high fat and sugar contents four to six hours before bed is cautionary. Avoid these in your diet late in the day so that they don’t disturb your internal body clock or keep you restless. Stimulants like these can not only impact the onset of sleep, but also some of our deeper, more critical, stages of sleep. (Source).
- Don’t work out at night. While exercising regularly is essential to good overall health and can actually help you sleep better at night, you may want to avoid getting in a workout about two to three hours before bed. Exercising is energizing for the body and promotes wakefulness by increasing the release of adrenergic chemicals in our brains. The increase of certain hormones and chemicals we get when we exercise is great during the day but isn’t as helpful when we’re ready to rest.
Everyone needs sleep. Preparing your body for a healthy nighttime sleep is a process that takes place throughout the day, not just when you hop into bed at 10 p.m. Try out these tips for a couple months and see how much better you sleep at night.