Sleep Hygiene – Top Tips for Better Sleep Quality
We’ve all experienced how one restless night can take a toll on our ability to function during the day. While the short term effects of poor sleeping are unpleasant, we often forget that it can affect our long term health as well. Sleep is vitally important to your overall well-being and prevention of chronic diseases. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or are feeling sleepy during the daytime, simple changes to your daily routine and bedtime habits could make a significant difference in helping you get the rest you need. The practice of implementing good habits throughout the day to encourage better sleep is called “sleep hygiene”. The underlying theme for the majority of sleep advice revolves around regulating your body’s “sleep clock” to take control of when you feel awake and when you feel tired.
Here are 5 tips to improve your quality of sleep:
Beware of Screens
The light from your phone, table, laptop, or TV stimulates your brain and the intensity of the light tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime. This is because certain types of light prevent the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Avoid screen time 30 minutes to an hour before going to bed. Choose not to have a TV in the bedroom to make it easier to resist the temptation to watch a movie before bed. Use the time to do relaxing activities instead, such as reading, or taking a warm bath/shower.
Create a Regular Sleep Schedule That You Can Stick To
Sleep schedules aren’t just for children! Getting into the routine of going to bed and waking up the same time every day may sound like an impossible feat, but it is the best way to avoid feeling groggy and tired in the morning. Evaluate what a typical week is like for you and decide on a schedule that makes sense for you and gives you the amount of sleep you need to feel your best. Gradually shift your current schedule in 15 minute increments each week until you achieve your goal. Avoid taking naps that are longer than 30 minutes so you don’t disrupt your routine. Consistency is important, so try not to vary your sleep schedule by more than 1 hour throughout the week. Remember, you cannot “bank” your sleep hours by sleeping in on weekends.
Avoid Strenuous Exercise 2-3 Hours before Bed
Some people subscribe to the myth that high intensity exercise will make you tired enough to fall asleep. This is not true because strenuous exercise causes your body to pump adrenaline, a hormone that promotes wakefulness. Light yoga, stretching, or tai chi would be wiser alternatives in the hours before bed to help the body relax. Aerobic exercise during the day is also helpful, especially if done outdoors because the exposure to natural light and/or sunshine will help your body get into a better rhythm.
Revamp Your Sleep Environment
Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, relaxing, and comfortable. Declutter your space to keep things that cause you to be stressed out of sight. Make sure your bedding doesn’t cause you to overheat. If you have a programmable thermostat, adjust the settings so that the room is cooler closer to bedtime. This could vary anywhere between 15 degrees Celsius to 21 degrees Celsius. It may take some trial and error to find out what temperature is most comfortable to you.
Mind What You’re Eating and Drinking Close to Bedtime
While a heavy meal and alcohol have a reputation for making one feel sleepy, it can disrupt your ability to stay asleep. This is because your body begins to process it a few hours after you have fallen asleep, and certain foods can trigger indigestion or heartburn that would wake you up in the middle of the night. Avoid the following foods 2 hours before bed: fatty, salty, spicy or fried food, citrus fruits and carbonated drinks. Going to bed hungry isn’t a good idea either, so if this tends to be a problem for you choose a light snack that has protein and a complex carbohydrate. During the day, avoid caffeine after 3:00 pm, and don’t take energy-boosting supplements at night (such as vitamin B12).
Your sleep position and pillow are important to ensuring a good night’s rest too! If muscle and joint pain are preventing you from getting a good night’s rest, contact us to book an appointment with a chiropractor, physiotherapist, or massage therapist for an individualized treatment plan to take care of your musculoskeletal system and relieve stress.