If you read my post at the end of last week, then you will know why I have chosen to write about Sleep Hygiene. I don’t think I can be the only person in the world who hasn’t heard of it, in fact I know I’m not. So just what exactly is it?
In a nutshell, Sleep Hygiene is the practice of forming routines that are conducive to better sleep. However, it’s not just about your bedtime routine, it’s about your whole day. Start the day off right. Be mindful throughout the day. Take time to relax on an evening and wind down before bed. These all help to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep.
Set an alarm
So it seems pretty obvious, but with more and more of us being able to work from home now, then maybe we’ve let this slip. Consistent waking times not only help regulate your bedtime but also “set” the body clock.
Get some daylight
Getting outside in natural light as soon as possible can really help to shake off any groggy feelings you may have. Read this great article by the Sleep Foundation about the connection between light and sleep. For my 5 top tips to improve your mood daily, read my previous blog post.
Get some exercise
Regular exercise can help you to sleep deeper at night, as well as deliver a host of other health benefits. So whether it’s walking the dog, going for a run or a session at the gym, it all helps. Best to leave at least 2 hours after exercise before bed though, to help your body relax again and return to core temperature before bed.
Limit that caffeine
Avoid drinks containing caffeine from the afternoon onwards. Caffeine is a stimulant which means if you drink too much, you can’t relax properly, even if you wanted to. And remember caffeine is contained in some fizzy juice, energy drinks and chocolate as well as tea and coffee.
Limit alcohol / nicotine
Try as much as possible to limit alcohol and nicotine in the evening. Alcohol may help you get to sleep, but it doesn’t last and can lead to restless sleep through the night. Likewise, Nicotine as a stimulant might make it harder for you to get to sleep when you need to.
Watch what you eat and drink
It is a good idea not to go to bed either hungry or thirsty, as it may cause you to wake in the night. Conversely, going to bed on a full stomach isn’t good either as your body can still be digesting, or needing the toilet, as you are trying to sleep
Limit those screens
It is a good idea to take some time out (30-60 mins) before bed, as screens are a mental stimulant. The blue light that comes from our devices can reduce melatonin levels and actually prevent us from being able to switch off. Time for reading! Also if you find that your mind races with thoughts, then keep a pad and pen by your bed to be able to jot them down and release them from your mind.
A calm and restful bedroom is a must for a good night’s sleep. Ensure the temperature is cool and blinds/curtains are drawn. Lighting should be dimmed and switched off to sleep. Weighted blankets are great for those suffering from restless sleep, read my post on their benefits here. Delicate scents such as lavender are fantastic for calming the brain before sleep. I use This Works Sleep Plus Pillow Spray, which I adore.
Remove or hide clocks
If possible then clocks shouldn’t be in the bedroom, to ensure you don’t end up clock watching. If your alarm is a clock alarm then try turning it away from you. If you use your phone, ensure it is on sleep mode so as not to disturb you during the night
How’s your sleep?
So there you go, that’s sleep hygiene in a nutshell. To be fair, if you are like me then quite a lot of it you do without even thinking. Other parts I’ve really worked on since the New Year, so for me, this is something that I have been doing religiously since then. Whilst my sleep quality isn’t great at the moment, it is definitely not down to my sleep hygiene! So do you practice sleep hygiene? What are your top tips for a good night’s sleep? Or do you struggle with your sleep and need to introduce some of the above. Drop me a comment below, would love to hear from you.
To the GP who couldn’t wait to get me off the phone rather than take 2 minutes to talk to me and explain exactly what sleep hygiene was… I have now made an appointment with my original GP (who could probably do without this call as she is just as busy as you) to explain that I have been following sleep hygiene for months now and that is not what is needed to help my deteriorating sleep.