Did you know that you are participating in sleep hygiene every day? If you are like I was, then you probably have no idea what sleep hygiene is or that you have been either supporting it or making it worse every night before bed.
According to McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine, sleep hygiene is the maintenance of habits conducive to sound sleep and rest.
Basically, whatever you do before you go to bed at night is your sleep hygiene and it can help improve your sleep or make it worse depending on you habits and behaviors.
The first time I ever heard about sleep hygiene I was in naturopathic medical school learning treatments to improve sleep for my patients. As we were discussing sleep hygiene it occurred to me that that I had been participating in some form of sleep hygiene since I was a little person.
Remember when you were a child and your parents would say go put on your pajamas and brush your teeth before bed? It was your first exposure to creating routines to prepare your body and your mind for quality sleep.
As we get older and have more responsibilities, time commitments, and family obligations we need to create specific sleep hygiene. We need to send our mind and body the signals that we are preparing for sleep so we can get to sleep faster and have more quality sleep during the night.
Here are some suggestions that can improve your ability to enjoy quality sleep:
Make sure that your room is completely dark: When the room is dark your brain to secrete melatonin which is an essential hormone for proper sleep.
Turn off your electronic devices one hour before bed: The light from devices suppresses melatonin production in the body. It also stimulates your brain to stay awake.
Create stress-reduction activities in the evening before bed: Minds racing from all of the activities from the day keep your mind active solving problems. Creating stress-reduction activities before bed allows your mind to release thoughts from the day and create restful sleeping at night. Examples may be meditation, prayer, drinking a small cup of noncaffeinated tea, or taking a warm shower or soothing bath.
Avoid caffeine or alcohol several hours before bed: In the body, caffeine and alcohol contain substances that can interrupt sleep, so they should be avoided several hours before sleeping.
Exercise on a regular basis: Numerous studies show that regular exercise during the day support better-quality and longer sleep through the night. Include stretching as well as cardiovascular exercise. Avoid rigorous exercise shortly before bedtime.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day: Our body likes routines, so going to sleep and waking up at the same time supports sleeping hygiene.
Avoid eating after 8 p.m.: Eating late interferes with quality of sleep and can cause unwanted weight gain.
If you are having trouble staying asleep take a look at the your sleep habits, or sleep hygiene. Make a few changes and create better quality sleep.