Sleep Hygiene Habits and Routines
Sleep hygiene is a term often used to describe proper sleep habits and daily routines for people with insomnia. Proper hygiene, or changes in daily routines, for some insomniacs and people with sleep issues can be beneficial. Changing daily habits and routines can sometimes help improve the length and quality of your sleep. The suggestions below are intended for people struggling with sleep deprivation, or simply a recurring lack of sleep.
Daytime Habits that Affect Sleep
If you are suffering from prolonged sleep deprivation it is good to take stock of your daily habits. In some instances changes in your daily routine can have amazing results. However, none of these suggestions should be considered medical advice. If you are experiencing severe sleep problems you should seek a professional who specializes in sleep disorders.
Naps – For some, napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep. However, if you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night, napping can make it worse.
Restrict naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon. Fight after-dinner sleepiness and if you get tired way before bedtime, do something mildly energizing.
Light – Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is controlled by light exposure and aids in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. The brain secretes more melatonin when it is dark, making you sleepy. Many things can change the body’s production of melatonin and alter the circadian rhythm.
Expose yourself to lots of natural light during the day.When necessary, use a light therapy box. This mimics sunshine and can be useful during short winter days.Typically, your brain begins secreting melatonin between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Regular light bulbs, electronics and blue light may suppress that. In the evening change to low-wattage, amber or red lightbulbs, or use amber-lensed glasses.
Exercise – The more you exercise, the better the sleep benefits. Exercise speeds up your metabolism, raises body temperature, and stimulates hormones like cortisol. No problem if you’re exercising in the morning or afternoon, but too close to bedtime and it can hinder sleep.
Even light exercise, like walking for only 10 minutes a day—improves sleep. Try to finish workouts at least three hours before bed. If sleep troubles persist, move workouts earlier. Low-impact exercise, such as yoga or gentle stretching in the evening can help promote sleep. It can take months of consistent activity before you get the full sleep-supporting effects. Be patient and build an exercise routine that positively helps your sleep.
Eat a Light Dinner and Stop Eating Three Hours Before Bed – A large meal too close to bedtime, will divert energy to food digestion, rather than recharging the body during sleep.
15 Minutes to Relax – When you’re stressed, it can be more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Taking 15 minutes or more to relax every day to relax will help your sleep. Try listening to music, journaling, meditation, etc. Do whatever works best for you to decrease your daily stress before getting ready to sleep.
Stick to a schedule – Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends. Constant repetition helps regulate the body’s clock and can aid in falling asleep and staying asleep.
Nightly Sleep Routine
Having a nighttime ritual can help separate bedtime from things that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety that make it harder to fall asleep. A relaxing routine, away from bright light, helps induce a deep sleep. Here are some suggestions to incorporate in your nightly routine for a deeper and longer sleep.
Try out new bedtime practices for relaxation –
Here are a just a few ideas to add into ways to relax before sleep:
- Preparations for bed likewashing your face, brushing your teeth and getting into pajamas tells your mind and body to get ready for sleep. Stick with the same hygiene routine, around the same time, each night.
- Read with a low light
- Take a warm bath
- Listen to relaxing music
- Do some easy stretches
- Unwind with a hobby
- Listen to a recorded book
- Make preparations for the next day
- Lower the lights several hours before bed
- If you worry about things after going to bed, write them down—and then put them aside
Avoid Struggling to fall asleep – Struggling to fall asleep leads to frustration. If you’re not sleeping after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing, like reading or listening to music until you feel you are tired enough to sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is pitch black – The smallest amount of light can disrupt the body’s internal clock and pineal gland melatonin production. Cover your windows with drapes or blackout shades if needed, or possibly, wear an eye mask.
Take the steps above daily with a comfortable mattress – Whatever you do, make sure your mattress is part of the solution and not part of your problems sleeping. If you have severe sleep deprivation a new mattress can make a world of difference to your ability to sleep.