Falling asleep may seem difficult, but there are several steps you can take to improve sleep hygiene. Many of these tips are simple things, but other things need a healthcare professional. Being informed about sleep hygiene will help you be healthier.
What is Sleep Hygiene and Why Do You Need It?
Good sleep hygiene includes developing habits for good sleep. Without good sleep practices, you can suffer from insomnia.
Poor sleep hygiene can lead to insomnia. Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Chronic insomnia can last more than three days a week and for three months or more. Symptoms of insomnia types are the inability to sleep, inability to stay asleep, and early morning waking. Insomnia causes fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, low energy, and decreased performance. By taking steps to improve your sleep hygiene, you can reduce the symptoms of or even completely reverse your insomnia.
- What to Avoid to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Avoiding some habits can help you sleep. Bad sleep hygiene results from these habits and avoiding them may improve your sleep. Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
Alcohol disturbs the rhythm of your sleep. It initially acts as a sedative but then as a stimulant. Alcohol keeps you from a deep sleep, causing you to wake multiple times during the night. In the same vein, caffeine is another chemical that can decrease your sleep hygiene. It’s found in coffee, tea, chocolate, colas, and some pain relievers. Avoid products that have caffeine for four to six hours before bedtime.
Sleeping pills can cause dependency, with the efficacy wearing off as you take the pills. Try to train your body to rely on its own natural chemicals to get a good night’s sleep. You can help your body prepare itself for sleep by avoiding bad light. Natural sunlight determines your body rhythms for sleep hygiene, so develop a sleeping schedule to avoid daylight or use sunlight-blocking window covers. Don’t use artificial light sources such as smartphones, tablets, and computers before bedtime, as these can also upset your natural body rhythms.
- Get Good Exercise
Light exercise, such as an evening stroll, three hours before bedtime can help relieves stress. A decent amount of exercise goes a long way in helping your body regulate its chemical balance and it can work wonders for your sleep hygiene.
- Go to Bed
Go to bed and wake at the same time to set your body’s “internal clock.” Train your body to recognize that it’s time for bed by choosing a consistent time to tuck in for the night, every night. Avoid using your cell phone before bed, as it can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daylight outside.
- Have Your HVAC System Cleaned
Make sure the air in your home is as clean as it can be. A major factor in improving your sleep hygiene is improving your home’s indoor air quality. Have an HVAC technician check your system to make sure it’s in tip-top shape, and change your air filters regularly to ensure your HVAC system isn’t creating an unhealthy environment for your home.
There are many ways to improve your sleep health, including these four. With good sleep hygiene, you can have better, more alert days, and we could all use more of those.