As a society we all have a basic understanding that sleep is important for both children and adults. Insomnia, the inability to fall and stay asleep, can begin to affect individuals at an early age and follow them throughout adulthood. Lack of sleep can lead to poor attention, concentration and memory, exhaustion, irritability and other mood disturbances. One way to work towards overcoming sleep disturbances is to improve your sleep hygiene.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe good sleep habits. There has been a considerable amount of research done regarding sleep hygiene. This research has helped develop a set of guidelines and suggestions that are designed to enhance sleep. According to research there is evidence that these strategies can provide long term solutions to sleep issues and difficulties.
Good Sleep Hygiene Strategies:
Get on a Schedule
One of the most helpful and simplest strategies to help with sleep is to set yourself up on a sleep schedule. This means going to bed; as well as, waking up at approximately the same time each day. This includes weekends and days off from work or school. But weekends are for staying up late and sleeping in, right? They can be; however deviating from the normal sleep schedule can cause you body to have difficulty readjusting once you return to your sleep schedule again.
Find a Quiet Place
When you get ready to sleep your room should be as quiet as possible. If your a person who finds silence very uncomfortable it may be beneficial to have a white noise machine or nature sounds playing softly in the background. However, avoid having the TV or music with lyrics on in the background. These types of sounds will stimulate your mind and will not promote sleep.
Take a Break
This seems a little counterintuitive; however, research suggests that if you have not fallen asleep after 20 minutes of lying in your bed you should take a break. Physically leave your bed and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again. Some examples include sitting quietly on the couch with the lights off (avoid bright lights as it will signal your brain that it’s time to wake up), or read something boring, like the dictionary. Make sure that during your “break time” you are avoiding doing anything that is too stimulating or interesting.
Only Use Your Bed for Sleep
If you’re like me, you read, play a game on your phone, watch TV, sometimes even pay bills in bed. Some kids will play or watch TV in their beds as well. Doing activities besides sleeping in our beds prohibits our bodies and minds from creating an association between the bed and sleep. When only using our beds for sleep our minds and bodies will begin to associate sleep and the bed, which will eventually assist in falling asleep more quickly.
Health experts encourage avoiding caffeine altogether; however, the reality is sometimes we need a little pick me up during the day. So for those of us who consume caffeine, it is best to avoid consuming any caffeine at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. Remember that caffeine can be found in many substances including the common one’s we think of such as coffee, tea, and soda; as well as in some we may overlook such as, chocolate and some medications. Any of these items can act as stimulants and interfere with the ability to fall asleep
Utilizing these strategies can improve your sleep hygiene, overall sleep duration and quality, and promote overall good health.