Everyone is aware of the fact that you need plenty of sleep. Typically seven to nine hours is recommended. However, it isn’t just the quantity of sleep that counts. It’s also the quality. If you’re struggling to get pristine slumber while you’re in bed, you may need to take steps to improve your sleep hygiene — that is, the habits and practices that consistently help you sleep well.
Here are several suggestions to help you find motivation and track your progress as you strive to improve your sleep hygiene.
Start With Your Routine
An inconsistent routine is one of the biggest culprits for disrupted sleep. If you find that you wake up at random times, eat whenever you want to, and work and relax sporadically, you’re likely going to struggle with getting quality sleep.
Instead, do whatever you can to bring a sense of constancy to your routines. This doesn’t mean everything has to operate in a rigid, inflexible manner. However, striving to have dependable activities can be a huge factor in getting a perfect night’s sleep. As you review your current routine (or lack thereof) look for things like:
- Exercise: Are you exercising late in the day? This can spike your energy levels and make it difficult to sleep. However, you can flip the script by getting in a workout or a jog early in the day. This can help you sleep by tiring your body out and helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Eating: Much like exercise, eating large, heavy meals right before bed can wreak havoc on your rest. Instead, make sure that you’re consuming reasonably proportioned meals and that you don’t eat dinner too close to bedtime. Then, if you feel snacky before dousing the lights, reach for a sleep-inducing option like almonds, white rice, or a kiwi.
- Include a bedtime routine: Morning routines are a great way to start the day, and work routines can help you stay focused. However, it’s easy to let the need for a bedtime routine slide. If you don’t have one set up yet, consider doing so. A few activities that you could work into your routine include: meditating and praying, reading, journaling, drinking a cup of herbal tea, listening to ASMR, and taking a bath.
From thoughtful daytime activities to restful bedtime ones, there are plenty of ways to use your routines to your advantage when it comes to your sleep hygiene.
Consider Your Sleeping Space
Along with a good routine, you also want to ensure that your sleeping environment is conducive to quality somnolent slumber.
Start by designating an area that is specifically for sleep. Ideally, this should be your entire bedroom. However, each living situation is different. If you can’t keep an entire room of your home exclusively for sleep, at least make your bed a sleep-only zone.
Next, do your best to turn your sleeping area into a cozy, tranquil space. From headboards and dressers to mood lighting and a restful color on the walls, there are plenty of ways to set up a relaxing bedroom.
Next, you want to consider what is in your sleeping space. For instance, clutter can be stressful, which is not great for sleep. Other ideas include:
- Keeping your room on the cooler side.
- Setting up a diffuser and some lavender essential oil.
- Hanging blackout curtains.
By setting up your space beforehand, you’re giving yourself the best possible shot at a good night’s rest.
Monitor Your Caffeine Intake
Like it or not, caffeine is part of what makes the modern world go round. However, that doesn’t mean you should consume it all day long. On the contrary, if you want to sleep at night, it’s important to limit your caffeine intake — especially later in the day.
If you’re looking for a specific time of day to stop drinking caffeine, unfortunately, that’s not possible. The time is going to vary depending on the person. Some people can drink a cup of coffee in the morning and struggle to go to sleep at night. Others can down a cuppa after dinner and doze off an hour later.
On average, though, it does tend to take at least four to six hours for a body to metabolize just half of the caffeine that is put in it. So, for most people, if you’re drinking coffee at 4 in the afternoon, you’re still going to have a decent amount of the stuff floating around your system at 10 p.m.
If you want to foster good sleep hygiene, make sure to track how your body reacts to caffeine. Then cut back on your overall intake and try to consume the bulk of your caffeine earlier in the day.
Avoid Blue Light After Dinner
Much like caffeine, blue light is another common instigator of bad sleep habits. The problem is, blue lights from electronic equipment can easily mess with your sleep/wake cycle. This has always been true with television, but in the era of smartphones, tablets, and countless other electronic devices, the issue of blue light before bed has become exponentially worse.
It’s easy to power down the television and then detox from the screen as you get ready for bed. But if your phone’s in your pocket — or even worse, you need to use it to set an alarm — it’s easy to spend several minutes or more on your phone once you’re actually in bed. This will only end up waking you up, even as you’re trying to drift off.
There are multiple ways to combat this. Many phones feature a “nighttime mode” which can at least reduce blue light. In addition, you can turn the brightness of your phone as far down as possible.
Of course, the best way to combat blue light is to avoid it entirely at least an hour or two before you go to bed. If you want to get really hardcore about it, you can make your bedroom an entirely electronics-free zone.
Taking Action for Better Sleep
Sleep has always been an important part of the human experience. In the modern era, though, there are countless things that can distract us while we sleep. Everything from a lack of routines to bad habits can interfere with a good night’s rest. In addition, things like flexible work schedules and countless electronic forms of entertainment can make consistent sleep feel impossible.
That’s why it’s important to be proactive. So consider your current sleep hygiene situation. Look for instability in your routines and shore them up. Strive to create a dedicated, tranquil sleep environment. Root out bad habits related to caffeine and blue light and then correct them. Taking steps like these are some of the best things you can do in the name of a great night’s sleep.
If you feel that you still need help getting the sleep you need, you may have OSA. Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today for you free sleep assessment.