Do you ever lie in bed wondering if you’ll fall asleep while staring up at the ceiling? Or perhaps you believe it’s time to get up when, in reality, it’s just 3 am in the middle of the night.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
If you want to sleep better, you might want to think about your sleep hygiene and how your daily habits might keep you from receiving the high-quality sleep you require.
According to a survey by The Nielsen of over 5,600 people in 25 cities in India, 93% experience sleep deprivation; 11% even fall asleep at work; and 87% feel that as a result, their health is deteriorating because of a lack of sleep.
Let’s discuss the importance of good sleep hygiene and the adjustments you may make to your day and night routines to gain better sleep.
What is sleep hygiene?
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “sleep hygiene” refers to good sleeping practices or behaviours you can adopt to potentially increase your capacity to fall asleep and stay asleep all night.
Your actions throughout the day, not just before bed, might impact how well you sleep. Your capacity to sleep is influenced by various factors, including your schedule, nighttime routine, food and beverage choices, and several other activities.
Tips to improve sleep hygiene
Here are a few tips to improve your sleep hygiene
1. Follow a regular sleep schedule
Even on weekends, try to get up and go to bed at around the same time every day. Sleeping and waking up each morning may become regularised due to your body’s internal clock being reinforced.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule may also help to lessen daytime tiredness.
Make sure you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night when you choose to go to bed.
2. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and follow it
You may unwind and get ready for bed by following a relaxing bedtime routine. Additionally, by following the same pattern every night, your body will learn it’s time for bed.
About 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime is the ideal time to begin your routine.
Your routine can include anything that helps you unwind.
- Take a warm shower or bath. In addition to the water being relaxing, the subsequent dip in body temperature as you cool down may also make you feel sleepy.
- To relieve stress from your muscles, try some simple stretches.
- To relax both your body and mind, try some meditation.
- While concentrating on your breathing, try listening to some calming music.
- Spend some time reading a book, but avoid using electronic reading gadgets.
- Avoid stressful or too stimulating activities, such as working or having emotional talks.
3. Before going to bed, turn off all electronic devices
A chemical called melatonin regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When your melatonin levels fall, it could be harder to fall asleep.
Blue light, emitted by electronic devices like your phone, can lower your body’s melatonin levels.
Even if you don’t realise it, keeping your phone near your bed might disturb your sleep. You may briefly become awakened by message notifications, buzzing, and lights that may unexpectedly turn on in the middle of the night.
4. Exercise regularly
You can improve your overall health and sleep quality with as little as 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day. And since exposure to natural light helps regulate your sleep cycle, the benefits may be increased even more if you can exercise outside.
But don’t worry if you can’t leave the house. Even routine indoor exercise may enhance your ability to sleep.
Just stay away from exercising an hour or two before going to bed. Your body temperature and energy levels may rise, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
Yoga or stretching are good options if you want to exercise later in the day.
5. Limit daytime napping
Long naps during the day might keep you up at night. Avoid taking naps in the afternoon and if you do keep naps to not more than an hour.
However, if you work at night, you might need to nap in the afternoon before going to work to make up for the sleep you miss.
6. Manage stress
Before going to bed, try to put your anxieties or concerns to rest.
Stress management may be beneficial. Start with the basics, such as
- Work delegation
Additionally, meditation relieves stress.
7. Modify your sleeping environment to suit your needs
It could be easier to fall asleep in a cool, quiet, and dark setting. In their bedrooms, most people sleep best if the temperature is between 16°C to 22 °C.
Additionally important is having a comfy mattress, pillows, and bed linens. Your comfort may influence your ability to fall asleep and remain asleep.
A decent set of earplugs may help you sleep well if you’re a light sleeper or have noisy neighbours.
Additionally, if your bedroom is too bright, you might want to think about using blackout curtains or an eye mask to keep the area as dark as possible while you sleep.
8. Eliminate the nightcaps
Even a single glass of wine before night might harm your sleep. Even though alcohol initially makes you sleepy, it might eventually impair the quality of your sleep.
The normal flow of sleep through several stages, including deep sleep, REM sleep and light sleep.
Drinking can also make sleep lighter and more restless, which lowers the quantity and quality of your sleep and increases the likelihood that you’ll wake up feeling exhausted.
9. Sleep only when you’re tired
Avoid lying in bed and tossing and turning if you’re not tired. Instead, try relaxing until you feel weary, at which point you should go to bed.
Get out of bed if you still can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes. If you have trouble falling asleep, lying-in bed will frustrate you, probably keeping you awake longer.
Get out of bed and do something relaxing, like reading on the couch, until you’re sufficiently tried to return to bed.
10. Use a sleep diary
Do some introspection (on paper) for around two weeks to discover what’s keeping you up at night. The information you discover could shock you.
Here are things to note down in your sleep diary.
- When you went to sleep
- If known, the time you dozed off
- How frequently did you wake up during the night?
- How long did it take you to fall asleep again each time?
- The moment you first become aware of time
- The number and length of naps you took that day
- How much alcohol or caffeine have you consumed?
Your independent review of this material could point out some unforeseen sleep issues. You may work together to enhance your sleep patterns, improve your general health and increase your resilience by discussing your diary with a doctor.
11. Increase light exposure during the day
You can improve sleep quality at night by being exposed to natural sunshine throughout the day.
You may never think about how your body determines when to sleep and get up. Still, your internal body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, plays a significant role in this brilliant process. Circadian rhythms are our bodies’ natural 24-hour cycles that direct our vital activities, including the sleep-wake cycle.
Light is essential when controlling our circadian rhythm, which determines when we sleep and wake up. Additionally, light impacts melatonin synthesis by the body, which is responsible for inducing sleep.
According to research by the National Sleep Foundation, getting more high-quality morning light between 8 am and noon may help you sleep better at night and wake up less frequently.
12. Limit your caffeine intake
Caffeine’s effects might linger for three to seven hours after consumption, implying that you could stay awake and aware for longer than you’d want after a cup of coffee in the afternoon.
Everyone has a varied tolerance to caffeine, so while it’s generally advisable to limit your intake to the morning, keep this in mind.
While some individuals might be able to fall asleep after having caffeine late in the day, others may not. You may be more susceptible to caffeine’s effects if you don’t have caffeine regularly.
13. Pay attention to your diet
Don’t overeat or go to bed hungry. A big, filling dinner shouldn’t be had shortly before bed. Because of the discomfort, you might have trouble falling asleep.
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol should all be used responsibly. Nicotine and caffeine can cause sleep disturbances and have energising effects that last for hours. While alcohol may initially help you feel sleepy, it may disrupt your sleep later in the night.
14. Get professional help
You can find out whether you have any underlying disorders causing sleep difficulties by making an appointment with your doctor to discuss sleep-related issues. It also allows you to create a personalised sleep hygiene plan.
They may recommend doing a sleep study to find out whether you have any sleep-related problems, including obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, insomnia, hypersomnia, or REM sleep behaviour disorder.
Benefits of good sleep hygiene
The most important thing you can do to reset your brain and body health is to get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep every night, and sleep is an investment in your longevity and health.
1. Get sick less often
Your immune system is supported by keeping sleep hygiene a priority. Your immune system functions better when you get enough sleep.
When participants in a study by the Archives of Internal Medicine were exposed to the common cold virus, those who slept for fewer than seven hours had a threefold increased risk of being ill compared to those who slept for eight hours or more.
Hence, getting enough sleep will make sure you fall sick less often and help you recover better once sick.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Even if getting eight hours of sleep each night won’t make you lose weight, it can prevent your body from gaining weight.
Ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, is produced by your body if you don’t get enough sleep. Simultaneously leptin, a hormone that alerts you to fullness, is also produced less by your body. As a result, you end up snacking more during the night.
Additionally, getting little sleep makes you more stressed and gives you less stamina to resist desires for unhealthy food.
3. Feel happier and less stressed
As we know, getting a good night’s sleep may put you in a good mood and reduce your stress levels. You feel refreshed when you have a good night’s sleep.
If you get adequate sleep, your energy levels will increase. And you won’t become as annoyed by life’s little irritations. Therefore, get a head start on bedtime; others around you’ll appreciate it.
4. Sleep can make your heart stronger
Lack of sleep may lead to heart-related problems such as high blood pressure or heart attacks. This is because poor sleep can release cortisol, a stress hormone that causes your heart to beat more quickly. Sleep is essential for your immune and cardiovascular systems to function properly.
5. Improves recollection, productivity and memory
Each physiological system in the body is impacted by sleep. During sleep, the entire brain’s networks are strengthened.
A good night’s sleep boosts memory, cognitive function and productivity; even one bad night can leave you feeling disoriented and blurry the following day.
One study found that the cognitive and motor performance deficits caused by sleep deprivation were equivalent to those brought on by alcohol intoxication.
6. Improves mental health
Sleep hygiene is crucial for maintaining emotional and mental well-being. The primary period of sleep during which dreams occur, REM sleep, is a type of nightly rehabilitation. Without REM sleep dreaming, it’s difficult for us to absorb anxieties and control our emotions.
Anxiety and depression are frequently correlated with inadequate sleep. 90% of those who suffer from depression have sleep problems or insomnia.
There is a reciprocal association between sleep problems and mental health problems: sleep problems can intensify or even create emotional health problems, and emotional health problems can affect or cause sleep problems.
Best foods to help you sleep well
According to PubMed Central, you can adjust your diet since some foods and drinks contain qualities that help you sleep better. Here are some foods that you can have to encourage restful sleep.
Tryptophan, an amino acid found in walnuts, helps in the body’s production of the hormones serotonin and melatonin, which promote sleep. Walnuts contain a lot of melatonin as well. To regulate our sleep, the pineal gland releases melatonin at night.
Magnesium, which is necessary to control the hormone melatonin that promotes sleep, is in good amounts in almonds. The magnesium present also relaxes your muscles in almonds.
According to a study of college students living in dorms, you might be able to enhance your sleep in two weeks by consuming a handful of almonds daily.
3. Warm milk
According to recent research, milk may also be beneficial because it includes milk peptides, tiny proteins that may help you relax and sleep better.
4. White rice
According to one study, rice is a starchy carb that enhances sleep. This is because white rice has a higher glycemic index (GI), which helps transport tryptophan from the gut to the brain.
Here it’s converted into serotonin and melatonin, the hormones that control our sleep cycles. To harness the full potential, serve rice with foods high in tryptophan, such as chicken, turkey, tuna, and leafy greens.
Although there isn’t enough research to back up its usage as a moderate tranquilliser, it’s believed to be a safe and potentially helpful treatment for improving sleep quality since it may contain compounds that promote sleep. You can relax by drinking a warm cup of caffeine-free chamomile tea.
Foods to avoid to sleep well
Before turning in for the night, you should’nt consume the following foods and beverages.
You could believe that having a few beers, glasses of wine or a nightcap will help you sleep. However, three compelling arguments exist against consuming alcohol, especially in large amounts, before night.
- Alcohol consumption causes the entire body’s muscles to relax, worsening obstructive sleep apnea and loud snoring.
- Alcohol also has an impact on the oesophagal sphincter muscle. When it relaxes, it may cause acid reflux.
- Later on in the night, alcohol disrupts the natural sleep cycle. Your ability to get deep, rejuvenating REM sleep may suffer.
2. Heavy meals
Meals that feel heavy in the stomach take longer to digest. In addition to giving you indigestion, fatty, cheesy, and fried meals can keep you awake at night. Late in the day, stay away from items like cheeseburgers, fries, fried dishes, etc.
3. Food with high water content
Getting up to use the restroom might interfere with your sleep. Naturally, staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining good health, but you should try to prevent having a full bladder in the middle of the night.
4. Extremely sweet foods
An insulin yo-yo can seriously disrupt sleep habits. Due to the risk of a blood sugar rise and subsequent drop, you should avoid excessively sweet foods. This includes sugary cereals, pastries, candies and more.
5. Foods rich in Tyramine
Specialists advise avoiding late-day meals that contain high amounts of Tyramine to improve sleep quality.
The brain releases a natural stimulant in response to this amino acid, which promotes brain activity. It could be tougher to fall asleep as a result. Tomatoes, soy sauce, eggplant, red wine, and aged cheeses are examples of tyramine-rich foods.
6. Gassy foods
Some foods might hinder a good night’s sleep. Uncomfortable gas may be caused by foods that are rich in fibre and take a lot of time to digest.
Avoid high-fibre fruits and vegetables before bed because they are good for your health but bad for sleep.
7. Spicy foods
Spicy meals might be problematic at night for anybody who has heartburn.
There is also another reason to stay away from them. Naturally, your body temperature should drop to promote sleep, but spicy peppers can raise it.
If you enjoy spicy food, consider having it at breakfast or lunch rather than dinner.
Healthy sleeping practices are part of good sleep hygiene. Your actions can impact how well you sleep, both during the day and right before bed.
You can attempt various techniques to fall asleep more quickly and remain asleep for extended periods if you have trouble falling or staying asleep. The majority of these focus on enhancing your sleeping habits.
You may improve sleep quality by following a schedule, having a soothing nighttime ritual, frequently exercising, keeping your bedroom dark and at a suitable temperature, and being mindful of what you eat and drink.
Make sure to follow up with your doctor if you experience irregular sleep patterns or insomnia.
How much sleep do I need?
According to recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, healthy individuals should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
Babies, young children, and teenagers require significantly more sleep to support their growth and development. Additionally, those over 65 need 7 to 8 hours every night.
What can I do to sleep well?
To sleep well, you need to
1· Follow a sleep schedule
2· Be mindful of what you eat and drink
3· Establish a calm sleeping environment
4· Limit your midday naps.
5· Incorporate some exercise into your everyday schedule.
6· Control your stress and anxieties
What can I do to make my bedroom a better place to sleep?
Here are a few tips that you can incorporate to make your bedroom a better place to sleep
1· Keep the temperature in your bedroom between 16°C and 22°C.
2·Turn off your electronic devices an hour before bed, using blackout curtains, and turning down the light.
3· Consider putting your pet off the bed if you find it difficult to sleep well because they are restless.
4·Try making your bed and keeping your space neat daily for better sleep.
Would a nightcap help me fall asleep?
You could feel drowsier after that nightcap or drink a drink before bed. However, it may prevent you from getting a decent night’s sleep or may lead to some problematic sleeping issues.
What are the 3 keys to having good sleep hygiene?
1· Be consistent. Every day, including weekends, go to bed at the same hour and wake up simultaneously.
2· Ensure your bedroom is peaceful, dark, comfy and quiet.
3·Remove all electrical devices from the bedroom, including TVs, laptops and smartphones.
What are 6 ways to help develop better sleep hygiene?
Here are our top 6 ways to help enhance your sleep hygiene.
1· Keep a consistent sleep schedule
2· Establish a relaxing nighttime ritual and follow it consistently
3· Before going to bed, turn off all electronic devices.
4· Exercise regularly
5· Consume caffeine in moderation
6· Adjust your sleeping environment to your needs