Sleeping well greatly contributes to our attitude, performance, and contentment throughout the day. However, in our busy lives, there are many factors than can interfere with proper sleep. Finances, relationships, family commitments, work responsibilities, and many other things can put a strain on our ability to lie down and fall asleep peacefully.
The National Sleep Foundation tells us that having good “sleep hygiene” can make a big difference in our quality of life. In other words, we need to develop healthy sleep habits and stick to them consistently to improve and maintain our quality of sleep. Listed below are some of those habits that when done on a regular basis can lead to much better sleep.
1. Develop a sleep schedule. Figure out what time you naturally feel tired and go to bed at that time every single night. Get up in the morning at the same time every single morning. If you feel tired during the day, take a short nap in the early afternoon, no more than thirty minutes long.
2. Exercise daily. Regular physical exercise can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. Any time of day is fine, but avoid exercise right before bed, and never exercise at the expense of sleep.
3. Limit what you consume just before bed. Avoid cigarettes, alcohol, or heavy meals. Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes disrupt sleep. Heavy meals, especially those containing spicy foods, can cause discomfort with digestion, making it hard to sleep. Try to finish eating and drinking 2-3 hours before you lie down to give yourself plenty of time for digestion and to limit bathroom trips when you are trying to sleep.
4. Establish a bedtime routine. Read a book, take a warm bath, do some light stretches, or work at your favorite hobby. Avoid television or technology just before bed; items such as phones and tablets can actually be stimulating making it much harder to fall asleep.
5. Get comfortable. Make sure your mattress and pillow meet your expectations for what feels good. A good quality mattress typically last 10 years. Invest in a new one if you need it. Keep your room cool and dark. Sleep in clothing that meets your own personal needs for comfort and temperature control. Use a fan, sound machine, or earplugs if necessary to create an environment free from noisy disruptions.
Use these tips to develop effective sleep hygiene and reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep.