What if there was one simple thing you could do to improve your physical and mental health?
It turns out, there is one thing that most of us can do to help give our mind and body better health… SLEEP!
What most people don’t realize is that poor sleep can have a major effect on health. Sleep heavily impacts our ability to think clearly, make good decisions, perform well at work and in school, to be productive and efficient. It also greatly impacts our health – from how our body processes what we eat to our chances of being overweight or obese. Poor sleep can even impact how strong and healthy our immune system is and how we fight off colds, flu, inflammation and disease.
Let’s look more in depth at the 4 tips to help improve your sleep hygiene so you can get some Zzzz’s and put your mind at ease.
What is good sleep hygiene?
Good sleep hygiene can help you get better sleep and improve your overall health. This includes setting the scene for a good night’s sleep, having a sleep ritual to tell your body it’s time to wind down, setting up your bedroom to promote good sleep, and how to manage your emotions before bedtime. We’ll cover these in greater detail below.
1. Setting the scene for a good night’s sleep
It’s important that people who are prone to tossing and turning during their nightly slumber practice good sleep hygiene for all-important restful sleep. This includes…
– Do not drink anything containing caffeine after lunchtime. Caffeine stays in the body for as much as 12 hours. So, even if you have an afternoon coffee, it can make it harder to fall asleep at night, and cause you to wake up during the night.
– No alcohol beverages, working on computers, using electronics (put that phone down), or watching TV while in bed as these activities may promote wakefulness and can lead to an increase in the time it takes to fall asleep.
– If you tend to lay awake at night thinking about the day’s ups and downs or what tomorrow will bring, try writing down your thoughts so that you can ‘turn off’ your mind before turning out the light.
-Follow a sleep ritual.
2. What is a sleep ritual?
Everyone is different, but having a sleep ritual of doing the same thing each night before going to sleep can help your body know that it’s time to rest. This includes activities such as…
– Warm bath or shower helps relax tense muscles and reduce stress
– Reading something relaxing, inspiring, or educational (not mystery/thrillers)
– White noise machine playing soothing sounds (e.g., ocean, rain, etc.)
-Calming music with no lyrics and soft lighting instead of reading in order to ease emotions and create a positive atmosphere for falling asleep.
3. What are the best bedroom conditions for sleeping?
Your bedroom should be a haven for sleep. A room that’s dark, quiet, comfortable and cool is ideal.
– Keep the lights down until it’s time to get up in the morning.
– Make sure any noise outside your bedroom doors or walls is minimized by replacing noisy windows with double-paned glass or soundproof windows.
– No eating, watching TV, or using the computer in bed.
– Make sure mattresses and pillows are comfortable. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that mattresses should be replaced every eight to 10 years, and pillows should be replaced every one to two years.
4. Quieting your mind to promote sleep
Recent research suggests that emotional health (how we manage our feelings) is just as important for sleeping well as getting adequate amounts of sleep each night. It’s important to develop healthy coping strategies when dealing with your negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, fear, etc., because these difficult emotions are often the cause of not being able to sleep well at night.
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious at bedtime, try these methods to calm your mind so that you can sleep better.
– Do progressive muscle relaxation by focusing on relaxing each of the major muscle groups in your body. Then release each muscle group as you relax it, from toes up to head.
– Use positive affirmations and tell yourself why you’re worth getting good sleep – e.g., “I deserve restful sleep tonight.” Having a grateful attitude toward sleep may help you feel relaxed before bedtime and improve how soundly you sleep at night.
-Many people dwell on past failures, current stressors, or future uncertainties while waiting for sleep. It’s important to turn your thoughts toward something positive and relaxing.
-List three things you’re grateful for and focus on these positive thoughts
Many sleep experts agree that getting more quality sleep should be as important as eating right and exercising. Sleep is vital for mind and body. The impact of quality sleep affects stress levels, emotions, memory, and decision making skills. So, while we can eat well and exercise to improve health, improving sleep should not be overlooked.
The good news is that many of the factors that promote good sleep hygiene are controllable, so it’s well worth putting some or all of these tips into action if you want to get more from your rest.