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Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene

Adapted from the book “When you can’t sleep : The ABCs of ZZZs” from The National Sleep Foundation.

Poor sleep habits, also known as sleep hygiene, is one of the most common issue in our society. We often stay up too late, or sleep too late, and at times both. Not only is our sleep schedule inconsistent, but we interrupt our sleep cycles with drugs, chemicals and overstimulating late-night activities like watching TV or browsing online.

We have compiled a list of good sleeping habits below to help you establish proper sleep hygiene. Most points may seem like common sense, but the reality is that most of these are ignored by many of us.

Set yourself a sleep and wake-up time

Don’t allow yourself to burn through the night or sleep late, only to wake up later. The body will naturally get used to falling asleep at a certain time and you must educate it to do so. This is an essential component of good sleeping habits no matter if you’re young or old, retired, a student or working.

Avoid daytime naps

Napping throughout the day can be destructive to your sleep patterns. Napping too often will cause you to sleep later and in effect sleep less. If you must take a late afternoon nap, try to not nap for more than 30-45 minutes.

Avoid alcohol 4-6 hours before going to sleep

This includes caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea and many sodas. Chocolate can also have a negative impact.

Exercise regularly but never before going to sleep

Going to the gym in the late afternoon can be the most beneficial as it will help you sleep. However working out a couple hours before bedtime can act negatively on your ability to fall asleep.

Use comfortable bedding

Evaluate if your current bedding promotes you to sleep. Uncomfortable or inadequate bedding will impede your sleeping abilities.

Find a comfortable temperature and keep your bedroom ventilated

A bedroom that is either too hot or too cold will impact your ability to sleep. A cool, not cold, bedroom is ideal for sleeping.

Block out distracting noise and light

Noise and light will keep your mind awake for longer than it should. Block everything out to get the best sleep.

Reserve the bed for sleep

Don’t use your bed for anything other than going to sleep. Your brain will make the association that your bed equals sleep.

A light snack can help you sleep

Warm milk and foods high in amino acid tryptophan, such as bananas, will help you sleep.

Relax before going to bed

Yoga, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques can help you get a better sleep by relieving anxiety and reducing muscle tension.

Leave your worries behind

Don’t think about work, school or daily life when in bed. Some find it useful to assign a “worry period” in the afternoon to think about that.

Create a sleep ritual

Some find it useful to take a warm bath or read a book every night to go to sleep.

Find your ideal sleeping position

If you don’t fall asleep within 15-30 minutes, get up, go into another room and read until sleepy.