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Most people don’t get enough sleep. We go to bed late and wake up early and always seem to be tired and sleepy. However, there are other elements to good sleep than the amount of it we get. And these are all crucial to getting a good night’s sleep.
But how do we get there?
What is sleep hygiene anyway?
Read on to learn more about this.
Elements of Good Sleeping Habits for Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene involves a wide variety of activities which all result in a better sleep. Everyone needs it because sleep is equally important to all different people – from children to adults and seniors.
But how do you achieve it?
One of the most important steps in sleep hygiene is to spend enough time asleep. This doesn’t mean sleeping for 12 hours (except with toddlers or babies) or 6 hours, but rather just the right amount for you.
This is also true when it comes to naps – you should nap no longer than half an hour (best results seen with 20 minutes of sleep). Avoid stimulants like alcohol, coffee or junk food just before bed or close to sleep.
Exercise enough during the day to get better sleep quality – this can mean gardening, walking, riding a bike and so on. Avoid exercise close to bed time. This may keep you up longer, especially after invigorating workouts.
Try to avoid these before bed as well:
- Rich, heavy food
- Spicy meals
- Citrus fruits
- Fatty or fried food
Ensure that you are exposed to plenty of natural light during the day and sleep in a dark room during the night. Have a routine – possibly shower, read a book, stretch a bit and so on. Try to avoid things you know are emotionally upsetting as well as stressful activities in the evening.
Get a comfortable mattress and pillows and make sure that the room is pleasant for you. The room should also be on the cooler side.
What is Bad Sleep Hygiene?
Poor sleep hygiene means that you have bad sleeping habits. You can make a few simple changes that would fix your sleep. Otherwise, you might deteriorate your overall lifestyle and quality of life.
Bad sleep hygiene means that you are using stimulants like caffeine, phones, and devices before sleep. This also means that you don’t have a regular routine or practice any relaxing activities before bed.
Your lifestyle could also be affecting your sleep, especially if you eat too much junk food, don’t exercise enough or drink too much alcohol.
Your mind should also be relaxed. Practice stress relieving techniques during the day so you can sleep better at night.
Make sure that you employ good sleep practices – and give them time to work. Some habits take longer to form.
5 Tips for Falling Asleep Quickly
We often forget to listen to our own bodies and because of this, we have to suffer the consequences. We need sleep, and plenty of it, if we want our bodies to work properly during the day. For better sleep, you also have to eat better and exercise. Water is also highly recommended.
Here are the top five tips on falling asleep with ease:
1. Exercise regularly
We don’t spend enough energy during the day and we can’t shut down completely when it’s time to sleep. Our mind gets tired but your body is still not. Maybe you sit in the office and have to sit in the car to get home and run out of time to really spend enough energy. You don’t have to work out in the gym, you can do some gardening, walking, climbing the stairs, swimming and more.
2. Invest in your sleep equipment
We spend a third of our lives sleeping. So, why do we invest so little in our sleep? Itchy pillow cases, hot bedding, uncomfortable mattresses, bad pillows etc. all ruin our chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Even the clutter disturbs us.
This is why you should take your time to organize your sleeping space completely. This means possibly changing the mattress, get a more comfortable pillow and getting light cancelling curtains. Just get into your bed and consider what needs to be done in order for you to sleep more comfortably.
3. Reduce stress
One of the biggest problems you have is probably shutting your thoughts down. Some of us feel there are too many things to think about and this gives us anxiety. So, organize your time as much as possible before sleep to reduce this stress and then switch your phone off at least an hour before sleep. All of the devices should be switched off during this time too, to allow your body to prepare for sleep a bit better.
4. Have a routine and a schedule
With a steadfast schedule and routine each night, you are much more likely to sleep better. So, dedicate enough time to creating a good bedtime routine that suits your needs.
5. Don’t eat junk food
Processed food is bad for your sleep because it doesn’t contain any nutrients and almost always has a high amount of sugars. Especially avoid it before sleep and opt for fruit and vegetables.
What’s the Best Drink to Have Before Bed?
Traditionally, there have been many drinks connected with better sleep.
But which of them really work and which don’t?
Can drinks really make that much of a difference?
Possibly so, but it will all depend on the type of drink you get. And because sleep deprived people would try anything, you should read this list to get a good grasp at which drinks can help you and which can’t.
Milk – It contains tryptophan which creates melatonin which has a role in sleep quality. Warm milk is especially effective. However, some still believe that it makes no difference. Sometimes just the act of sitting quietly and enjoying a warm beverage can relax you and get you ready for sleep.
Soy milk – Another drink full of tryptophan, soy milk can be effective in getting you to sleep for longer and better. Soy products can help in general.
Chamomile Tea – Known as a mild tranquilizer, chamomile can help you unwind and relax after a long day which will help you sleep better.
Smoothie that contains magnesium – Magnesium can help your body relax muscles which will help you sleep better. Use spinach, nuts and seeds in your drinks.
Banana smoothie – This is an excellent source of potassium, tryptophan and magnesium. Make a banana smoothie and enjoy better sleep.
Drinks that will not help you:
Cherry, apple, grape juice because fruit juices contain so much sugar.
Hot chocolate or sodas because both contain caffeine and high amounts of sugar which will definitely not help you sleep better.
What to do When You Can’t Sleep
So, what to do when you can’t sleep? Many people recommend different strategies but they never work for everybody. Here is a list of proven tactics that can help you sleep better:
Keep track of your sleep – Record what you do before sleep and how much time you sleep. This way, you can eliminate the activities that prevent you from getting enough sleep.
You can try therapy – This doesn’t necessarily mean talking to a therapist, but rather teaching yourself with various techniques how to get to sleep faster and sooner. These are CBT practices that help.
Have a routine – A routine will prepare your mind and body for sleep.
Use your bed just for bed-related activities. As comfy as it is, you shouldn't use your bed for work, eating, or watching TV. Our brains need to associate being in bed with going to sleep.
Pick a good mattress – Something comfortable will improve your sleep quality.
Stop smoking – Smoking can cause insomnia.
Meditate – Have 15 minutes each evening or day when you will focus on your problems and solutions.
Nap for 20 minutes during the day, always before 4 or 3pm.
Avoid overeating in the evening.
Lower your lights at least two hours before sleep – Try leaving only one lamp on and turn the rest of the lights off.
Minimize outdoors noise with a white noise machine or soothing music.
Don’t drink alcohol before sleep, it may interrupt your sleep later
Keep your room dark and cool to promote good sleep.
Sleep only when you feel sleepy. If it’s really late and you need some sleep but still don’t feel sleepy, try some relaxing activities such as:
- Journal about your stresses.
- Drink some chamomile tea or warm milk.
- Take a relaxing bath or a shower. Add lavender oil to your bath water or place a few drops near the faucet for a shower.
- Count to 100 or backwards, focus on slow, even breathing and the numbers.
- Visualize yourself sleeping and relax each part of the body.
Sleep is extremely valuable. It's your body's most important time to repair and rejuvenate itself.
Make sure that you take care of yourself during the day – take less caffeine, eat the right food and exercise enough. Create your sleeping space so it works for you. Practice some relaxing sleep activities and make sure that you get enough sleep at night so you can function properly during the day. In case you have a condition like insomnia, talk to a doctor about other options.
What are some of your favorite ways to hit the hay? Share your best solutions down below!