Hygiene is something most people equate to cleanliness, not necessarily to getting a good night’s sleep. But when it comes to rest, the best way to start is by cleaning up your act.
Sleep hygiene is about creating the ideal environment for rest and having a lifestyle that promotes good sleep. This is crucial when it comes to achieving the depth, length, and quality of sleep your mind and body need.
Here are some tips to help you sleep deeply and wake up refreshed.
Work with your circadian rhythms. During the winter months, it can be a challenge to stay awake into the evening hours. This is a result of your circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms regulate your body’s mental, physical, and behavioral changes throughout the day and night in response to light. Your internal clock works with these rhythms, producing the sleep hormone melatonin when your eyes sense darkness. Light, in other words, keeps your body from producing the natural hormone that encourages a good night’s sleep.
Help regulate your circadian rhythms by eliminating all lighting in your bedroom and toning down bright lights before you go to sleep.
Develop and keep a regular routine. Having a regular routine is one of the most important rules for getting good rest. Basically, that means you must go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning—even on weekends. Sleeping in on the weekend to make up for lost sleep during the week does not work. You cannot reverse sleep debt. In fact, this sleeping in actually confuses the body and makes it harder to get up on Monday morning. Having a regular schedule over time works in your favor. Once your circadian rhythms are set, you can even wake up without the aid of an alarm clock.
Make other types of hygiene such as brushing your teeth or bathing a part of your regular routine as well. Calming tasks just before bedtime can help your mind and body wind down and prepare for sleep.
Create the ideal bedroom environment. Use your bedroom only for relaxing activities—rest, romance, and meditation. Keep the temperature at a cool 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid waking overheated. Get the air flowing in the room by cracking a window or using a fan. You want to remove other distractions such as pets, clutter, and reminders of work. Silence any noises as well, even the ticking of a clock can negatively impact your sleep. If needed, purchase a pair of earplugs designed for sleep, or get devices that play white noise or soothing nature sounds. Finally, you need to extinguish the light. Your bedroom should be so dark that you cannot see your hand in front of your face. If needed, get an eye mask or use blackout shades. To find your way to the bathroom at night, install a soft night-light instead of turning on a lamp or overhead light.
With bedding, think comfort. When it comes to bedding, make sure your mattress is large enough and firm enough to promote proper sleep posture. That means lying on your side with your head supported by your pillow and aligned with your spine. Have a pillow or other support between your knees to relieve stress to your lower back and use clean, comfortable sheets that don’t irritate your skin.
Avoid electromagnetic fields. In today’s world, electromagnetic pollution comes from all electrical devices, not just those that power or generate light. Our computers, cell phones, tablets, TVs, and other gadgets all generate electromagnetic frequencies that interrupt the normal neurochemistry in the brain and keep the body from falling asleep. Avoid electromagnetic pollution by removing or unplugging as many electronic devices as possible. Also, it is a good idea to use blue blocking glasses in the evening when working on your computer, watching TV, or even looking at your phone.
These are just a few of the ways to improve your sleep hygiene and promote the best night’s sleep you can get.
Stay tuned for future blogs on strategies to improve your sleep.