It’s 3 a.m. and you’re staring at the ceiling, watching the minutes tick by on your alarm clock, and wondering how in the world you’re going to get up for work. We’ve all been there! While a night of fitful sleep is bound to happen every once in awhile, you shouldn’t be struggling with sleep night after night. If you are, it may be time to consider your sleep hygiene—a term used to describe good sleep habits that set you up for a restful night’s sleep. Today, I’m going to share five tips that will encourage the restorative sleep you need and deserve. Before we jump into how to improve your sleep, let’s quickly go over why sleep is so important.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to rest, repair and recharge. While it may seem like nothing is happening when your body is laying quietly at rest, your brain and body are actually hard at work overseeing a wide variety of biological upkeep. Restful sleep helps you stay alert during the day, boosts your memory, supports a strong immune system, and allows your body to repair damage.
6 habits for good sleep
Although sleep is one of our basic human needs, more than 60 percent of adults don’t get adequate sleep. If you’re a part of this percentage, don’t worry—you’re not doomed! By improving your sleep hygiene, your sleep is likely to improve.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule
It’s important to try your best to wake up and go to bed around the same time every day. On the weekends, try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule to no more than one hour. This reinforces your body’s sleep cycle (a.k.a your internal clock), which can make it easier for you to fall asleep and get up every day. Plan your sleep schedule so that you’re getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Avoid stressful or stimulating activities before bed. That means no working, discussing stressful issues, playing video games, or exercising an hour or so before you plan to go to sleep. Physically and psychosocially stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone, cortisol, which increases alertness. Ease into bedtime with relaxing activities such as taking a bath, reading a book, practicing relaxation exercises, doing yoga, or having some tea. If you find that an overactive mind is causing your inability to fall asleep, try journaling out your thoughts before bed.
3. Cultivate healthy daily habits
Sleep hygiene isn’t just about what you do right before bed— it’s also about what you do in the day and early evening. Your daily habits—what you eat and drink, how you schedule your days, and how you choose to spend your evenings—can significantly impact your quality of sleep. Here are some healthy daily habits that will support your circadian rhythm:
- Get some sunlight daily.
- Engage in around 30 minutes of mild or moderate physical activity per day.
- Don’t smoke.
- Reduce alcohol consumption and avoid drinking in the late evening.
- Don’t drink caffeine, take B vitamins or any energizing supplements after 3 p.m.
- Limit daytime naps to around 20 minutes.
- Stop eating at least two hours before bedtime if you find that digestion interferes with
4. Optimize your bedroom
To encourage sleep, it’s important to make your bedroom a soothing, tranquil place. This entails having a comfortable mattress and pillow, setting your thermostat to a comfortable, cool temperature (about 65 degrees Fahrenheit), blocking out light, and drowning out noise with a white noise machine, earplugs, or a fan.
5. Remove electronic devices
About an hour before bed, remove all distracting electronic devices from your room. Devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops cause mental stimulation and also generate blue light which suppresses the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
6. Mineral balancing and sleep remedies
A shortage of available calcium and magnesium in the body can contribute to sleep difficulties. Also, copper and other metals stored in the tissues can irritate your nervous system, making it difficult for you to relax enough to sleep soundly. Lastly, irritants in foods such as histamines, oxalates and salicylates can cause sleeping challenges as well. Getting a better night’s sleep is often related to removing the interference in your own body. Some remedies can be helpful
while balancing the body overall.
Apply these tips today
Good sleep hygiene starts in the morning. Be mindful of what you do throughout the day and incorporate as many of these helpful sleep habits as you can. With mindfulness and consistency, you’ll be on your way to restorative sleep in no time.