Do you find yourself lying in bed stewing in frustration, unable to to slip into proper sleep? Or do you find yourself waking up fully after just a few short hours, unable to fall back asleep? Perhaps you might even start to feel anxious as the sun begins to set, aware that you’re about to be dragged through another night of futile attempts to sleep well.
Your behaviors throughout the day, especially leading up to bedtime, can greatly influence your sleep. It has the power to either promote healthy sleep or contribute to sleep difficulties.
Your daily routines, such as your dietary choices, beverage consumption, medication usage, daily schedule, and evening activities, can significantly impact the quality of your sleep. Making even minor adjustments to these routines can sometimes make the difference between experiencing restful sleep or a night filled with restlessness.
“Sleep hygiene” refers to a set of beneficial habits that can enhance your ability to fall asleep and maintain sleep. By incorporating these habits into your routine, you can improve your overall sleep health. When individuals face challenges with insomnia, sleep hygiene becomes an essential aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is the most effective long-term treatment for chronic insomnia. CBT for insomnia aims to address the thoughts and behaviors that hinder restful sleep, while also incorporating techniques for stress reduction, relaxation, and managing sleep schedules.
If you struggle with sleep difficulties or desire to enhance your sleep quality, it is advisable to adopt these healthy sleep habits. If your sleep problem persists, it is recommended to consult with your healthcare provider.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule helps regulate your body’s internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends and vacations, helps synchronize your body’s sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Set a bedtime that allows for sufficient sleep
It is important to allocate an appropriate amount of time for sleep. Most adults require 7-8 hours of sleep each night to function optimally. By setting a bedtime that allows for adequate sleep duration, you increase the chances of obtaining the necessary restorative sleep your body needs.
Don’t go to bed unless sleepy
It’s crucial to associate your bed with sleepiness and falling asleep quickly. If you go to bed when you’re not actually sleepy, you might spend a significant amount of time tossing and turning, which can lead to frustration and anxiety. Waiting until you feel genuinely sleepy helps ensure that you’ll fall asleep more easily.
Create a quiet and relaxing bedroom environment
Your sleep environment plays a significant role in your sleep quality. Keeping your bedroom quiet, free from excessive noise disruptions, and maintaining a comfortable, cool temperature helps promote a more relaxing atmosphere that is conducive to sleep.
Adding a mattress topper to your mattress will make it feel like a hotel bed, taking you back to memories of stress-free vacations. It also helps optimize the support of your underlying mattress and encourages your body to relax! Many hotel chains use a memory foam mattress topper to create a plush feeling, or a latex mattress topper for a responsive and firm feel.
If your bedroom leaks ambient light from windows, using blackout curtains in conjunction with an eye mask will help achieve total darkness.
Get out of bed if you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes
If you find yourself lying awake in bed for more than 20 minutes without falling asleep, it is recommended to get out of bed and engage in a quiet, non-stimulating activity. This strategy prevents the bed from becoming associated with wakefulness and frustration. Engaging in a calm activity can help relax your mind and body, preparing you for sleep once you feel sleepy again.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
Engaging in a consistent bedtime routine signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, or listening to calming music can promote relaxation and create a conducive environment for sleep.
Use your bed only for sleep and sex
By associating your bed exclusively with sleep and intimate activities, you condition your mind and body to recognize the bed as a place for rest and relaxation. Avoiding activities like watching TV, working, or using electronic devices in bed helps create a clear separation between wakefulness and sleep.
Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings
Exposure to bright light, particularly blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers, can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Minimizing exposure to bright lights in the evening, or using tools like blue light filters or amber-tinted glasses, can help signal to your body that it’s time to prepare for sleep.
Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime
Electronic devices emit blue light, as mentioned earlier, which can suppress melatonin production and disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. Turning off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed allows your brain to unwind and transition into a more relaxed state, making it easier to fall asleep.
Avoid large meals before bedtime
Consuming a heavy meal close to bedtime can lead to discomfort and indigestion, making it harder to fall asleep comfortably. If you’re hungry at night, opt for a light, healthy snack that won’t overburden your digestive system and interfere with your sleep quality.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet
Regular physical activity and a balanced diet contribute to overall well-being, including better sleep. Exercise helps regulate your body’s energy levels, reduces stress, and promotes relaxation. A healthy diet provides essential nutrients that support optimal sleep and helps prevent sleep-disrupt