Studies show that sleeping seven to eight hours per night is instrumental to our good health and well-being. Prioritizing a good night’s sleep every night will do you wonders.
It is often called sleep hygiene. Just like you have a routine for keeping clean, you should have a routine for getting enough sleep. We are also talking about more than just physically being in the bed for 8 hours. You want the sleep to restorative.
To create an optimal sleep environment, consider the following:
Lighting: you know what you can tolerate. Excess light can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Sound: Ensure that your bedroom is isolated from a lot of noise. If your room is situated so that noise can’t be avoided, purchase a white noise machine to help mask the worst of it.
Linens and Sleepwear: Use what is comfortable to you. I love my flannel no matter what time of year. Other can’t stand it. If a fabric irritates you, avoid it!
Temperature: Again, you know how your body responds. Either extreme is not good for sleeping. Find that comfortable middle ground.
Humidity: Just as extreme temperatures can disrupt our sleep patterns, so can extreme dryness or humidity. If your room is abnormally dry, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. If, on the other hand, your room is extremely humid, use a dehumidifier to remove some of the extreme moisture.
Develop a Sleep Schedule: Sound sleep patterns depend on a sleep schedule that is predictable and repetitive. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day helps keep you in balance. If you are currently getting under the seven-hour minimum, figure out how early you need to go to bed so that seven hours is achievable. Slowly shift your schedule each night by going to bed fifteen minutes earlier than the night before until you have reached your seven-to-eight-hour requirement.
Time Exercise Wisely: Exercising too close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep. Ideally, you should exercise in the morning or afternoon. If you exercise after work, do so by early evening, so your body has enough down time to relax and become ready for sleep.
Create a Bedtime Ritual: To prepare your body and your mind for sleep, create a bedtime relaxation ritual. If you have trouble clearing your mind, journal your thoughts and your to-dos for the next day. Make a list of all the things you want to tackle so your mind relaxes more easily.
Avoid Sleep Inhibitors: Avoid substances late in the day that stimulate the brain, such as sugar and caffeine. This was a huge one for me for so long.
Limit Alcohol: Although alcohol can relax you and help you fall off to dreamland, it can also disrupt sleep patterns and hinder your ability to sleep soundly. Alcohol tends to keep you in lighter stages of sleep, which can cause you to awaken easily during the night. This deprives you of valuable REM and deeper, more restorative stages of sleep.
Smoking: Although smoking is detrimental to your health in general, it’s also detrimental to sleep patterns. Heavy smoking causes individuals to sleep very lightly, ultimately reducing the duration of REM sleep. Further, smokers tend to wake up after three or four hours because the body goes into nicotine withdrawal.
Eating: It is best to finish eating at least two hours before bedtime, and no later than nine p.m. Any later and you run the risk of being kept up by an active digestive tract. Make sure your dinner is well balanced with complex carbohydrates and lean protein, and not too high in fat or simple carbohydrates (sugars and foods made with refined flour). Finally, avoid eating foods that cause discomfort, acid reflux, or excessive gas, as they will surely keep you awake.
Fluids: Unless you want to run to the bathroom several times during the night, it is best to avoid drinking a lot of liquid (water included) two to three hours before bedtime. Make sure you drink most of your liquids during the earlier part of the day.
Change. Discover. Transform.
Carla Carter, Ed.D., LCPC, CMPC, EMDR Certified
Information taken from:
Blumenthal, Brett (2011-12-28). 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You (p. 23). AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition.