10 Good Sleep Habits
It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve heard the term “sleep hygiene”, and it sounded pretty clinical and detached to me…not to mention, it brought to mind the idea of “oral hygiene” and things I’m supposed to do for my health and well-being, but sometimes miss. But really, sleep hygiene is a group of suggestions, things to try, to support getting a good sleep…and they really are useful!
10 Good Sleep Habits
1. Avoid caffeine in the evening. Don’t consume caffeine for at least 5 hours before bedtime. That includes coffee, black or green tea, and chocolate.
2. Avoid nicotine in the evening before bedtime, as well as if you wake up in the middle of the night.
3. Avoid alcohol in the evening. This one can be counter-intuitive because alcohol can sometimes make you feel drowsy and you may think it helps you to get to sleep, but it also disrupts the sleep cycle and reduces the quality of sleep.
4. Avoid the use of electronics before bedtime and in bed. Screen time and blue light can disrupt the sleep cycle.
5. Turn off the ringer on your phone.
6. Use your bed for sleep only. Wait, what!?!?! Well, yes, try to find other areas in your home for other activities so that your bed is used only for sleep. It sets up a positive mind association and signal that bed is associated with sleep only.
There have been quite a few don’ts, I’m ready for some do’s…
7. Be physically active during the day…that dreaded “E” word, exercise. Exercise helps burn off energy and is a release for stress and anxiety. But don’t exercise right before bedtime as it can be a stimulant (Oops, I slipped a “don’t” in there!).
8. Make your bed as comfortable and pleasant as possible. We settle into activities that we enjoy and that feel good, so get some soft linens or a cozy blanket to enhance the comfort in your bed.
9. Pillows aren’t just for your head! Use pillows to increase comfort throughout your body. If you sleep on your side, a pillow between the knees can help reduce back and pelvic discomfort. If you sleep on your back, a pillow under the knees can help reduce lower back pain.
10. Set the mood…a cool, dark room is the best environment for sleep. If you need light to see your way in the middle of the night, consider using a flashlight or a nightlight (they aren’t just for kids!). And if you find that you need more warmth in a cool room, add blankets/layers instead of turning up the thermostat.
BONUS – 11. If you are having trouble falling asleep, get up after about 15 minutes of trying. Move to another bed (if one is available), go to the bathroom, grab a drink of water, or just stroll around your home for a few minutes. Having a break from your sleep location helps to reset and fall asleep more quickly.