Sleep Hygiene, more commonly known as healthy sleep habits (as defined by the National Sleep Foundation), are habits you self-develop over time to improve your nighttime sleep quality. In turn, this improves your daytime alertness. Obtaining a good night’s sleep is important for both physical and mental health; it can also improve productivity and overall quality of life.
There are numerous natural ways to reverse years or even decades of bad sleeping habits. Below are a few tips and tricks to help you improve yours:
Regular Sleep Patterns & Bedtime Routines
Help your body to establish a healthy sleep routine by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day. A regular nightly routine helps the body recognise that it is bedtime. This could include taking a warm shower or bath, reading a book, or doing some light stretches. When possible, try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before attempting to sleep.
Spend the right amount of time in bed
While 8 hours of sleep is recommended, everyone is an individual who will either require more or less. Try to limit your time in bed to no more than 8.5 hours. So if it takes you a long time to fall asleep, try going to bed later.
Unfortunately, sleeping during the day will make it more difficult to nod off at nighttime. If a nap is really necessary, try and limit the duration to half an hour and make sure you’re up for at least 4 hours before going back to bed. Napping does not make up for inadequate nighttime sleep. However, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.
Bed is for sleep, not screens
Computers, phones and TV can disrupt your sleep. Your mind needs to associate being in bed with sleeping rather than watching TV or using your computer. Don’t stay in bed if you’re wide-awake.
Relax before bed
Find a relaxation technique that works for you. Try to establish a buffer zone before bedtime where you’re not trying to solve any problems or thinking about tomorrow, but just relaxing and preparing for bed. Try to avoid using your computer and Smartphone during the bedtime buffer zone.
Ensure you are comfortable in your bedroom
Your room should be the right temperature, as well as quiet and dark. Make sure your mattress and pillows should be comfortable. The bedroom should be cool, between 15-20 degrees, for optimal sleep. Bright light from lamps, a mobile phone or TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep, so turn those light off or adjust them to night-mode where possible. Consider using blackout curtains, sleep masks, earplugs, "white noise" machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices that can make the bedroom more relaxing.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes
These substances have far-reaching impacts on your physical and mental health, with disrupted sleep being just one. While alcohol might make you sleepy initially, it tends to disrupt your sleep cycle, leading to poorer quality sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can also prevent you from sleeping. Opt for an herbal tea, such as our Beauty Sleep Tea, or hot chocolate.
Try not to clock watch
If you can’t sleep, checking the time heightens your anxiety about not sleeping. If possible take the clock out of your room.
Try to avoid sleeping tablets
Sleeping pills don’t address the cause of your insomnia and won’t help you long term. A trusted doctor who fully understands the reasons should only prescribe sleeping pills why you might be struggling to get good quality sleep. Your doctor must also keep a close eye on your use of sleeping pills while they are being taken, as they are addictive.
Steering clear of food that can be disruptive right before sleep
Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can trigger indigestion for some people. When this occurs close to bedtime, it can lead to painful heartburn that disrupts sleep.
Ask for help if you need it
If you regularly wake up feeling unrefreshed, are always restless in bed, have trouble getting to sleep or find that being tired is affecting your mood, it might be time to go and see your doctor.
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