Sleep hygiene has a huge impact on our physical, emotional, and mental health.[i] If you are not getting adequate sleep, you are risking health in each of these areas. If you could make one lifestyle change right now, I would encourage you to work on improving your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is your habits and routines that impact your sleep. Some of the things that impede good sleep are: fixating on worrying thoughts, engaging in activities before bed that are counterproductive to sleep, using stimulants, etc.
IS YOUR BEDTIME ROUTINE KEEPING YOU AWAKE?
Begin to set up a routine that promotes sleep hygiene. For example, if you are watching news before bed or scrolling through social media you are keeping your mind agitated instead of moving toward a relaxed state. The blue light from your screens can reduce the release of melatonin, which helps us sleep.[ii] Are you drinking coffee, a stimulant, in the evening? Are you exercising after dinner? Endorphins are released while exercising and are known to keep us awake.[iii] All of these are counterproductive to sleep and can lead to insomnia.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE
Identify which activities are contributing to impaired sleep and begin to institute changes that will help sleep hygiene.
Suggestions to help you get a grip on sleep hygiene:
- Move exercise to earlier in the day.
- Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed.
- Begin listening to relaxing music at that time.
- Take an Epsom salt lavender bath before bed.
- Turn down bright lights.
- Make sure the only activity you are doing in bed at bedtime is sleeping.
- If you nap, make them brief. Don’t try to catch up on sleep during the day.
- Remove the television from your bedroom.
Essentially, you need to train your body that the bed at bedtime is for sleep. If you find yourself ruminating on things, be sure to look at the previous post addressing thought patterns and stress management. I’ll also soon be addressing some techniques to help move you into a relaxed state.