Do you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis? And has it started to affect your quality of life? If you answered yes to either or both of the above, then it is time to start taking a look at the way you handle your sleep hygiene.
We spend around one third of our entire lives asleep, yet many people are not getting enough sleep. A lot of the time, this is because our hectic lives and busy schedules get in the way of us taking the necessary steps to ensuring we are doing everything we can to maintain a good, healthy and balanced sleep hygiene routine.
Check out our article on sleep hygiene, and read about how you can transform your sleep by just changing a few simple things in your daily and nightly routines.
Why Sleep Hygiene Matters
Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and steps we can take in our daily lives to ensure we have an improved and better quality night’s sleep, and also more alertness during the day.
It is really important to practice such habits because an improved sleep hygiene regime can make an overwhelming difference to your quality of life. Not only can following our tips and tricks improve your quality of sleep, but utilizing them on a regular basis can improve other areas of your life such as your productivity, alertness and energy levels.
If you do not correctly practice correct sleep hygiene, then your sleep quality will continue to diminish and your quality of life will suffer. Lack of sleep, or sleep deprivation, can lead to serious health problems down the line.
The list of issues you could see crop up can include the likes of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cardiac issues, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. It can also lead to a huge decrease in productivity, trouble concentrating, slower brain response, difficulty learning, irritability and moodiness. Who wants a life full of these things?
Although you may believe that you are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night, if you are engaging in disruptive habits during the day, and not correctly winding down in the evening, then you quality of sleep will suffer. Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to sleep.
The best way to improve your sleep hygiene is to start by looking at your personal habits, and altering them gradually. A good way to do this is by following our sleep hygiene tips below.
Start by picking up one to two habits, and return to this article once a week to add another tip to your routine. Do not try to incorporate every tip right away, because you could find yourself overwhelmed and not completing each step correctly.
Check out our top 10 sleep hygiene tips below:
Our Sleeping Hygiene Tips
DURING THE DAY
1. Don’t Take Daytime Naps Longer than 30 Minutes
With our busy schedules and hectic day to day lives, we are bound to feel sleepy during the day from time to time. A lot of people experience a bout of sleepiness in the afternoon, from around 1pm to 3pm.
This is because of our circadian rhythms, our bodies natural body clock, which tends to experience a bit of a lull in the early afternoon. Whether you decide to have a nap during this time or not, your circadian rhythm will power up again and your sleepiness with subside until bedtime.
If we do give in to the afternoon nap though, a nap from between 15-30 minutes is plenty long enough. This amount of time is just enough to freshen up and continue our day, without affecting our sleep that night.
Anything longer than 30 minutes is known as prolonged sleep, and this can increase the chances of insomnia or trouble sleeping that evening. Try to limit your daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes in order to keep your sleep hygiene at a good level.
2. Do Plenty of Exercise
Incorporating a healthy amount of exercise into your daily routine can make a great difference to the way you sleep at night. If you currently don’t do any exercise at all, then start by adding a 20 minute light walk into your day to get yourself moving.
Slowly add to this by turning it into a light jog or run. A healthy amount of exercise would look something like 30 minutes of cardio or training at least 3 times a week. However, it is important to remember that timing is key when it comes to exercise and sleep.
Try to exercise earlier in the day, rather than late at night. Exercising late at night can increase your alertness and make it harder to fall asleep. Doing exercise can help to regulate and balance your body’s daily rhythm.
3. Don’t Eat Dinner Late
Eating dinner late at night can increase your alertness because your body will be working hard to break down and digest the food, which can often keep you awake.
Plenty of foods contain a substance called tyramine, which increases the production of noradrenaline.
Noradrenaline keeps you awake because it boosts your brain activity. Some of the foods that contain tyramine include cheese, bacon, cured or smoked meats, chocolate, potatoes, soy products, spinach, tomato and sausages. Spicy foods are also a big no-no before bedtime.
This is because they can cause acid reflux which will make it harder to fall and stay asleep.It is also really important to try to eat healthy throughout the day.
Foods that are high in fat, processed foods or foods high in carbs are difficult to break down, and they don’t have any key nutrients or vitamins that help to keep your energy levels up during the day. They can actually have the opposite effect, and make you feel sluggish and tired in the middle of the day.
PREPARING FOR BED
4. Set Up Your Bedroom Correctly
Your bedroom set up can, in fact, have a huge affect on your overall quality of sleep. This is perhaps one of the most important factors of sleep hygiene. Setting up your bedroom ‘correctly’ includes making sure you are using the right source of light.
Try switching your bulbs to ones that do not emit blue light and use black-out blinds or curtains to keep natural light at a minimum during the night.
As well as ensuring your light is set up well, you should also try to manage the temperature of your bedroom. An optimal temperature for adults to sleep in is between 60-69 Fahrenheit (15-24 Celsius).
If we are too hot or too cold, it can be difficult to fall into a deep, comfortable sleep and our bodies will struggle to help regulate it. Open windows or use fans in the summer, and manage the radiators or heating in the winter to keep between these temperatures.
5. Avoid Caffeine Near Bedtime
Caffeine is a high stimulant which can increase your alertness and heart-rate, which is why it is no wonder why you should not enjoy a cup of coffee, or any other form of caffeine, before you try to go to bed. In fact, research shows that even afternoon caffeine can play a part in hindering your nightly sleep.
If possible, try to cut out caffeine around 6 hours before you plan to go to bed. If you feel like you need a caffeinated drink mid-afternoon and really can’t shake the habit, then try taking 1000-2000 mg of Vitamin C along with it, as this will help the caffeine substance to leave your body more quickly.
The same goes for nicotine. It is best to avoid smoking close to bedtime because nicotine is another stimulant that will keep your brain activity pumping.
Research shows that those who smoke more regularly, and closer to bedtime, engage in a higher amount of light sleep, and a lower amount of deep sleep, meaning they will wake up less refreshed and more sleepy in the morning. Both caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime will affect your quality and quantity of sleep, and can even lead to insomnia.
6. Go To Bed At The Same Time
Sometimes life can get in the way of us keeping to a strict routine. Perhaps we had to stay late at work, or play a sport in the evenings once a week. Even though we can live very busy lives, it is still important that we try to stick to a specific bedtime as much as we possibly can.
Going to bed at the same time every night can help you to get into a sleeping routine, which can lead you to feeling better during the day.
When we go to sleep at the same time, it helps our body clock to set and maintain consistency, and helps keep our circadian rhythm in check. Give it a go, we’re sure you will notice a positive difference.
7. Use a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow
This tip is an add on from the ‘set up your bedroom correctly’ tip. It is really, really important that you have a good quality surface to sleep on. If you are not comfortable or not being supported well, then you will certainly struggle with getting adequate sleep every night.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on this either. We suggest looking for mattresses and pillows that are hypoallergenic which are often made from latex, gel foam or memory foam. These will keep your pillow or mattress from gathering dust mites which can lead to allergies or irritation during the night.
In addition, make sure you are using a pillow that supports your neck and helps to properly align your spine. This will save any discomfort, pain or pressure from building up which can disturb your sleep.
Also, keep in mind that most mattresses need replacing after a while. Many people believe that you must replace your mattress every 8-10 years, but actually it depends very much on what mattress you have. The mattress options available on the market are endless, and each product is different.
Check your manufacturer’s recommendations, and listen to your body. You may start to feel that your mattress needs to be changed, your sleep deprived body might just tell you!
8. Limit Screen Time Before Bed
Screens from the likes of TVs, computers, tablets, phones and laptops emit out blue light which stimulates your mind and inhibits the production of melatonin, which in turn can prevent your brain from winding down ready for sleep.
It would be best to avoid using such electronics at least 90 minutes before you plan on going to bed. If you really must use one of these items before bed then try using a filter than prohibits the blue light from being emitted into your eyes.
It may even be a good idea to keep these electronics out of the bedroom altogether. This is because when you associate your bedroom only with sleep (and sex), then you are more likely to be able to fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep longer.
When you use devices late at night, you increase your temptation. Temptation to ‘read one more paragraph’ of an article, ‘watch one more episode’ of a sitcom, or ‘play one more game’ of your favorite game. In order to rid temptation altogether, then going to bed without such distractions will be a massive help.
9. Don’t Drink Alcohol
Drinking alcohol late at night can prohibit the quality of REM sleep, and should be avoided totally before sleep. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not help you get a better night’s sleep.
Although yes, it can help to make you feel drowsy and sleepy, it has the reverse effect when you are actually in the process of sleeping. This is because once the alcohol is metabolized, your body goes through a period of arousal, which will keep you awake or prohibit you from getting the quality sleep you need to feel refreshed and motivated in the morning.
IN THE MORNING
10. Jump Start Your Body
Many of us use a loud and harsh alarm to wake up in the morning, and a lot of the time this can make you feel irritated or alerted perhaps too quickly. The best way to jump start your body in the morning is to:
- Use a wake up light which will help your body to wake up more naturally.
- Stretch to reduce muscle tightness and tension.
- Rehydrate with a large glass of water.
- Have a warm shower that is finished by a cold splash to close your pores.
If you still feel as though you must set an alarm to wake up in the morning, then perhaps try putting your alarm somewhere where you can’t reach it. That way you will have to get up to turn it off.
Going back to sleep after your alarm wakes you up, even for just a few minutes, can make you feel more tired and more sluggish than if you were to get up right away. Try waking up with a wake up light and alarm, and you should notice that by the time your alarm goes off, you are feeling more awake and raring to go than when you rely solely on your alarm to wake you.
Once you have got up, the first thing you should do is drink at least 16 oz (500ml) of water. When you sleep from 7-9 hours, your body becomes dehydrated. Drinking water first thing in the morning is a really great way of waking up your mind and body, and kicking yourself into gear for the day ahead.
Water in the morning not only boosts your rate of metabolism for the day ahead, but it also helps to flush out toxins that have built up overnight. You should feel much healthier and ready to go afterwards. The morning water also helps to give your brain the fuel it needs to be productive and motivated.
It has even been said that drinking water in the morning can help you to be less inclined to overeat throughout the day. Give it a go and see how you feel!
And that’s a wrap! These important 10 tips are to help transform the way you sleep every single night, and they may also transform the positivity (and productivity) of your day-to-day life, too.
Getting sleep in both quality and quantity is so important to keep us happy, healthy and motivated. The best way to ensure your sleep hygiene is up to scratch, is to start by incorporating 1-2 of our top tips into your daily routines. After a week or so of trying 1-2 tips, look at using another one and then another.
You may notice that your new habits take some getting used to, and that it may take several days or weeks before you notice a difference in your health or sleep quality. It will be important to keep coming back to this article to add new tips into your life until you have successfully added as many as you can into your routine.
Once you take on board our sleep hygiene tips, we hope you that will enjoy better night’s sleep and more productive days. Happy Sleeping!