When you and sleep are going through a rough patch it doesn’t mean that you have to put on the brakes and break up. Like any healthy relationship it’s important to put in the work to maintain it every now and then.
While getting dirty in the bedroom helps maintain some relationships, keeping your sleep hygiene clean will help solidify your union with sleep.
But what is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene are steps that you should practice to promote ongoing healthy sleep. Some important sleep practices that you should implement are:
1. Set your sleep pattern and stick to It. It’s important to go to bed and wakeup in the mornings around the same time to keep your body clock in synch. This can be a tough step for some. When we synch our sleep with our natural sleep rhythms and internal 24-hour biological clock we are able to achieve the best restorative sleep possible and going to bed and waking up become easier.
Did you know? A tell-tale signs of sleep deprivation includes falling asleep within five minutes of going to bed (it should take 10 to 12 minutes) and needing an alarm clock to wake up.
2. Protect the amount of sleep you need. Adults typically need 7-8 hours of consolidated restorative sleep per night. We all have a personal baseline for rest and our “Basal Sleep Needs” is the amount of sleep our body needs each night. While it’s true that some can function on 5-6 hours of sleep per night, it’s a small percentage of individuals that can do so. So if you think it’s you, it’s probably not. When we don’t meet this need on a regular basis we accumulate a “sleep debt." This is the amount of sleep you owe your body - just like the amount of money you owe the bank with a financial debt.
Did you know? For one hour of sleep lost you need 24 hours to recover. You can’t erase your debt with just one morning of sleeping in.
3. Turn off tech and keep it out of the bedroom. In my opinion this is one of the main reasons why we live in such a sleep deprived society. Whether we are working late, checking Facebook, or binging on Netflix, we are always connected with our faces in front of a screen. It’s important to remove over stimulating activities before bedtime. Turn off the TV, the internet, your iPad and iTouch, whatever you use. That blue LED light from the screen can really over stimulate the brain and turn the sleep switch off. It suppresses melatonin and makes it difficult for you to fall asleep. So 60 minutes before bedtime, 90 minutes if you can do it turn off tech.
4. Practice a consistent bedtime routine. We create consistent and calming routines for our little ones – change them into pj’s, dim the lights, set a soothing environment, and read them a bedtime story. The same should be done with your own bedtime routine. Join the movement and #BringBackBedtime. A good night’s sleep always starts with a great bedtime routine.
5. Set up your bedroom for sleep success. Your bedroom should be for sleep and sleep only. Start off by removing distractions like television, workout equipment, and work papers. It’s important to create a sleep sanctuary and for you to be comfortable in your sleep environment.
Sleep Tip! Promote a dark, quiet, and cool sleep environment for ultimate sleep success by installing black out blinds, introducing a white noise machine, and choose natural fibers like breathable cotton bedding that will keep you cool and dry.
6. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Caffeine like coffee, tea, soda, and nicotine can act as a stimulant that can keep you awake. While alcohol can help in you dozing off it can cause more fragmented sleep throughout the night.
7. Limit daytime sleep. Limit daytime sleep to only 30 minutes if you feel like you need to take a nap and make sure that you are awake for at least 4 hours before your bedtime. Remember sleeping throughout the day could cut into your sleep at night when it’s needed the most. It’s always best to protect your bedtime and night sleep.
Seek professional help if problems persists. If you are still struggling with sleep and waking up tired even after having a full night of sleep, or falling asleep throughout the day, or a frequent snorer it’s best to discuss your issues with your Doctor to see if a sleep study should be arranged. This could be a red flag of sleep apnea.
Practicing these sleep hygiene steps consistently can help rebuild your relationship with sleep and keep you well-rested for a lifetime.