5 Quick Tips for Perfect Sleep Hygiene
You’re always up on the latest workout routines (aqua spinning anyone?). You watch what you eat (and you’ve said your tearful goodbye to hot dogs). Clearly you care about your health – but what about your sleep? Sleep hygiene is the set of activities and behaviors you do (or don’t do) that promote healthy and restful sleep. Here are 5 tips to improving your sleep hygiene to help yourself get to sleep faster at night and feel more awake during the day.
Light the way. Light plays a big role in how our bodies regulate our natural sleep and wakefulness cycles. To make sure you’re able to fall asleep at night, start to dim the lights about an hour before you’re ready to fall asleep. Avoid lights in your bedroom while you sleep, and make sure you avoid the emitted by smartphone and tablet screens before bed as well (or use an app like fl.ux to filter out the most harmful blue light). The lack of light will stimulate the release of melatonin in your brain which promotes nighttime sleepiness.
Switch to virgin… and decaf. We get it – the late afternoon cold brew is tempting, but to give yourself the best shot at falling asleep, avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime. Similarly, alcohol before bed can help you fall asleep but can increase the frequency of nighttime wakeups – so avoid the nightcap as well.
Set a routine. To facilitate an easy bedtime, develop a nighttime routine – a set of actions that you perform every night before getting into bed that will prime your body and your mind for rest. Make sure to avoid stressful or anxiety inducing activities to keep your mind at ease and ready for bed. If you find that you’re having trouble falling asleep, rather than tossing and turning, get out of bed and do something relaxing like light leading for 10-15 minutes and then get back into bed. The key is to train your mind to fall asleep quickly after you get into bed, and to break the cycle of lying awake, staring at the ceiling.
Work out early. Exercise is a great way to improve your health in many ways, and a good workout can help get your body ready for sleep. Just make sure you aren’t working out too late. Workouts cause your body to release the stress hormone cortisol which makes your brain more alert and makes it difficult to get to sleep.