The term sleep hygiene refers to the variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good night time sleep quality.
There are few things that we can do to get the most out of our sleep :
1. Fix a bedtime and an awakening time
It is important to try and go to bed and wake up as the same time each day (including weekends – sorry) as it helps set our body’s internal clock and train our body to expect sleep at a certain time.
2. Avoid stimulants that interfere with sleep like caffeine, alcohol or nicotine
You should avoid any stimulants that can keep you awake. For example, it is recommended not to have caffeine 6 hours before bedtime (which includes coffee, tea, sodas as well as chocolate – sorry again). Also avoid excessive alcohol consumption 4 hours before bedtime and prevent from smoking.
3. Establish a pre-bed routine
A regular night routine helps your body recognise that it is bedtime. What can this include? Reading a book, some light stretches, medication or a warm bath. It is also best to avoid any emotionally fueled conversations before bedtime as your brain will have difficulty to switch off.
4. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed
We all know that aerobic exercise is good for our health. Well it turns out exercise is also very good for our sleep. As little as 10 minutes of exercise, such as walking or cycling, can make a huge difference to the quality of your sleep. It is however recommended not to have a strenuous workout right before bedtime.
5. Nap early—or not at all
If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 30 minutes of daytime sleep and try to schedule them earlier in the day.
6. Don’t overindulge at dinner time
It is recommended to stay clear of food that can disrupt or put too much strain on your digestive system before bed. Heavy, fatty, rich, sugary or spicy dishes can trigger indigestion for some people and make it harder to fall asleep.
7. Bed is for sleep
It is important to reinforce the mental association between the bedroom and sleep. It may help to limit your bedroom activities to sleep and intimacy. It is recommended to leave the computers, TVs, and work materials out of the bedroom.
8. Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime
This is a big one in today’s society. It’s important to initiate a digital curfew – the last thing our brain needs is more information and more entertainment. You can start with 30 minutes before bedtime and gradually increase it to 1h or even 2h if you can.
Checking your phone right before bed keeps your mind psychologically engaged and the blue light from the screen suppresses melatonin.
Having your electronic devices next to your bed is also a bad habits. They emit radio frequency energy that prevent sound sleep. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, you should at least switch it into airplane mode, which stops it from sending or receiving signals.
9. Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing
A quiet, dark, well ventilated and cool environment can help promote sound sleep. Comfort is also important as well with good quality mattresses and pillows. Bright light from lamps, street lights or TV screens and distracting noise can also make it difficult to fall asleep, so best to turn light off and consider using blackout curtains.
10. Go to sleep when you’re truly tired
It is best not to go to bed unless you are really sleepy as struggling to fall asleep will just leads to frustration. As a general rule, if you’re not asleep after 20-30 minutes, get out of bed and try to do something relaxing, like reading or listening to soft music until you are tired enough to sleep.
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