If you've never heard of sleep hygiene or "clean sleeping" before, it basically refers to practices that you can do before bed or in the day to result in a better nights sleep. When i first started looking into sleep hygiene, i thought it was going to be a huge fad that only belonged to the pages of magazines that wouldn't translate into my life, but i was wrong. Sleep hygiene actually makes a lot of sense and isn't difficult to put into place. This is kind of my guide to sleep hygiene without the unrealistic expectation of asking you to not go on Instagram an hour before going to bed..
I am a huge routine person, if i could do every thing at the same time everyday i probably would and now i think about it i probably do. Waking and going to bed at around about the same time every day is the biggest factor in getting a good nights sleep, we all talk about a body clock but i don't think we actually anticipate how real and important one is.
The point is your body needs to actually be tired enough to fall asleep at night and have had enough sleep to wake up at a certain time in the morning. You can get back into a routine by bringing the time you get into bed forward by half and hour each night and getting up half an hour earlier each day, its likely you'll struggle to fall asleep in the beginning but after about three days you'll get tired earlier each night. Move the time forward by half an hour for as long as you want, until your body is in a natural routine to fall asleep and wake when you need.
There's a sort of checklist that goes along with making sure you're in the right environment for good sleep, the obvious being temperature control, comfort and light exposure. But i believe there's another side to sleeping environment and thats to do with association, try to avoid doing anything other than sleeping in your bed. Once you start eating and working from bed you'll start to associate your bed with being awake rather than asleep; better sleep hygiene means creating separation between being awake and being asleep and reserving your bed for sleeping rather than anything else.
Exercise is vital to getting a good nights sleep but can also hinder sleep if you don't do it at the correct time; doing exercise too close to bed time will increase heart rate and adrenaline levels and thus make it harder to fall asleep in the short term. Good sleep hygiene involves exercise during the day at a time that suits you, without being too close to when you actually want to go to bed.
Everyone knows you shouldn't down a cup of coffee and then jump straight into bed expecting to fall asleep, but most people believe if you drink alcohol it'll help with putting you to sleep, which is far from the truth. While you might fall asleep quite quickly with alcohol in your system the second half of your sleep will be disrupted while your body starts to process the alcohol. So while it's obvious you should stay away from caffeine and foods high in sugar before bedtime, if you're really struggling with sleep particularly waking and not being able to get back to sleep, consider cutting down on the alcohol.
PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY:
The last thing to consider is where you place your clock while you're sleeping, which for many goes hand in hand with where you place your phone. If you have your clock within your eye line when you're in bed you're more likely to watch the time tick away and it'll be awful for your sleep. It's the same feeling of trying to calculate exactly how much sleep you're going to get, which means you spend more time panicking that time is running out and not actually getting any sleep. What also ties in here is what you do when you wake up in the middle of the night, the worst possible thing to do is pick up your phone or look at the time. If you pick up your phone your light exposure changes and your brain becomes active, similarly if you begin to look at the clock you start to think about sleeping which all results in not sleeping.
Is your sleep hygiene in check? - Maria x
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