Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial in maintaining your overall health. It is as important as eating healthily and undertaking regular physical exercise. For many individuals, however, excellent sleep hygiene seems challenging to achieve due to a myriad of psychosocial factors that can interfere with one’s routine. These can range from experiencing amplified levels of stress to feeling overwhelmed with personal responsibilities. Given the busy lifestyle that most people lead today, it is no wonder why a qualitative night's sleep seems like a luxury.
Unfortunately, poor sleep hygiene leads to direct physical and mental health decline. Numerous studies show that it often has adverse effects on a person's hormonal balance, brain functioning, motivation, and weight. As such, all of these may stand in the way of a healthy, balanced and maintainable lifestyle which is why it is important to have a good night's rest to boost your overall health, mood, vitality, and creativity!
While you may have little or no control over your current circumstance, the good news is that you can adopt and cultivate excellent habits that will stop you from tossing and turning all night long. At Home Healthcare Online, we believe everyone deserves a restful, satisfying sleep to start their day the right way. If you’re finding it hard to switch your brain off at night, follow these 10 evidence-based sleep hygiene tips that are sure to help you doze off at night!
Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
The circadian rhythm is the body's internal function that regulates the sleep-wake cycle by setting your body clock. It goes on a loop and restarts every 24 hours. If you have an irregular sleeping pattern, you can safely assume your body experiences confusion due to the inconsistency in sleep. This causes an alteration in your circadian rhythm and melatonin level. As a result, the body finds it difficult to set consistent active and rest periods, decreasing both the quantity and quality of sleep. In order to overcome this hurdle, establish a maintainable sleep routine by going to sleep and waking up at the same hours every day. After a few weeks, you might find yourself not needing any alarms because your internal body clock has found its rhythm.
Avoid sleeping in.
If you need sleep breaks, especially on weekends, opt for a daytime nap instead of sleeping in. The former can help you pay off your sleep debt without altering your sleep-wake cycle, which the latter can disturb instantly.
Limit your daytime naps.
While a daytime nap is a safer option than sleeping in, it can still affect your ability to fall asleep later in the evening. Hence, we recommend scheduling your naps earlier in the afternoon and having microsleeps of one hour or less at a time. This way, you will have a sufficient wakeful window before sleeping in the evenings.
Pay attention to your meals and mealtimes.
Avoid going to bed feeling hungry or stuffed. The feelings of discomfort may keep you up late at night. Having huge meals may alter your hormones, and doing so a few hours before bedtime leads to poor sleep quality. At the same time, avoiding large amounts of liquids will lessen your chances of waking up in the middle of the night for quick bathroom breaks.
Lessening caffeine intake later in the day helps too, since its stimulating effect can take hours to wear off. While alcohol is a depressant, it is proven to have the ability to alter melatonin levels and disrupt sleep.
Get some sun.
Exposing yourself to the natural light or bright artificial light early in the day signals your circadian rhythm that it needs to stay active. After spending your daytime energy, your body will adapt to rest at night!
Include physical activity in your everyday routine.
Regular physical exercise helps with sleep. Research conducted shows that it prevents insomnia and helps people fall asleep at night almost instantly. However, depending on the individual, undertaking physical activity later in the day may not be a good idea due to its immediate stimulatory effects. Hence, make sure to squeeze exercise into your routine at a time that works best for you, but not before bed!
End your day with a relaxing bath or shower.
Having a warm bath or shower is an excellent pre-bedtime activity due to its relaxing effect. Studies have shown that it improves sleep by enabling a person to fall asleep quicker thereby experiencing a deeper slumber.
Have some quite "me" time.
For some individuals, having an active mind keeps them up at night. Hence, if need be, make an effort to ease your mind at least an hour before sleeping. Several relaxing activities are proven to be valuable. These include getting a massage, listening to calming music, reading a book, practising breathing exercises, journaling, and meditating. You can alter these activities each day or choose one or two that you like. Keep practising these activities before bed to set healthy habits and improve your quality of sleep!
Optimise a restful bedroom.
Having a relaxing environment is imperative for a good sleeping routine. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, cool, and clean by eliminating external noise and artificial light.
A piece of friendly advice: avoid using screens at least an hour before bed! If it helps, light a scented candle. But do not forget to put them out before allowing sleep to pull you in!
Consult your healthcare provider.
If none of the tips above prove to be successful, it may be that an underlying condition is causing difficulties in your sleep pattern. Certain sleep disorders are more common than most individuals believe. Among these is Sleep Apnoea, which is manageable with a CPAP machine. Hence, if you think your sleeping habits are getting in the way of your daily functioning, consult your doctor for a helping hand.
Sleep contributes to your overall health while overcoming conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Plus, it improves mood and helps your skin glow, which will make you feel and look even younger than you actually are! If you want to better your health, make time for sleep and cultivate the habits discussed above!