March 15, 2013
In today’s world, twenty four hours just doesn’t seem like enough time to get everything done, and often, our sleep ends up compromised as a result. Getting good sleep is important for our immune systems and studies have shown that getting good sleep helps prevent things like heart disease, obesity, mental health problems, and tons of other ailments.
Practicing good sleep hygiene is basically built upon the idea that you need to tell your body when it’s time to sleep, where you sleep at, and how long you sleep for. You should teach your body that your bed is where you sleep, for whatever amount of hours you need sleep, and you should have a pretty steady timeline of when you fall asleep and when you wake. So if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, try these tips:
1. Avoid caffeine, sugars, and other stimulants
You should try and avoid these at any time of the day, although it’s unlikely that many are willing to give up their morning cup of coffee. After a morning cup of coffee though, keep your caffeine and sugar intake to a minimum, especially in the late afternoon and evening. If you have sugar and caffeine during these hours, your body is going to have a hard time winding down, no matter how tired you are.
2. Avoid taking naps
If you’re tired during the day and you have an extra hour or so, it seems to make sense to get in some sleep, right? Wrong. Taking naps during the day is actually something that hurts your ability to fall asleep at night. When practicing good sleep hygiene, you’re telling your body when it’s appropriate to sleep and when you should fall asleep. When you start taking naps at random hours or in places other than your bed, then you’re confusing your body’s ‘mental map’ of when, where, and how you should sleep.
3. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex only
Bedrooms have become many people’s second rec room of sorts. Bedrooms are now considered incomplete if they don’t include a large television, sound system, radios, books, and more. The problem with all of these things? They deviate attention from what you should be in that room for: sleep and sex. You have a room in your house dedicated to everything else: so why not a room dedicated to sleep? If you read or watch television in bed, you’re confusing your body: it doesn’t know that it’s supposed to sleep there because it’s use to being mentally stimulated there.
4. Wake at the same time every day, even on the weekends
This goes against everything we’ve been taught: if you have a day off, you’re supposed to sleep in right? Actually, you should try to wake up at the same time every day, with no more than a half hour’s difference if you don’t wake up at the same hour. Again, this is teaching your body how long you should sleep and is constructing a pattern for your body.
Practicing these few things will result in a healthier sleep hygiene and help you get the sleep you need and deserve.