We’ve heard it before: Get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep daily. Easier said than done!
For many, it can take quite some time to fall asleep. In addition, many people are waking up in the middle of the night and having difficulties getting back asleep.
Why does this happen?
There are many factors, but a commonality may be improper sleep hygiene! And no, I’m not referring to brushing your teeth, making sure you are clean before bed.
So, what is sleep hygiene???
Strong sleep hygiene means having a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed practice, and building healthy habits during the day can all contribute to excellent sleep hygiene.
I am going to take you step by step for how to set up your version of practicing sleep hygiene
1. Eat dinner earlier.
When you eat late at night, you put calories into your body. Calories=energy. Plus, when you eat later in the evening, those foods do not get digested as well as food earlier in the day. This may lead to weight gain.
2. Two hours before bed, DIM THE LIGHTS!
Bright lights signal our body to create cortisol. Cortisol does many things on our body and works on certain brain parts to stay alert. When we are trying to fall asleep, we could say that cortisol is our enemy. Our bodies naturally produce cortisol and melatonin. For melatonin to start rising in our body, cortisol needs to be decreased and relatively low. With bright lights around the house, TV, laptop, and phone screens in our faces, we are stimulated with a lot of light. Try to reduce screen time at bed but, most importantly, dim the lights around the house! I love using salt lamps as my low light at night. I even got a chargeable salt lamp for my bathroom while getting ready for bed. This has helped drastically for my sleep quality.
4. Make your bedroom cozy.
If you need a new mattress, this is your sign to get one! Same with your pillows. Your bedding matters, too. Studies show better-quality sleep in temperatures below 67 degrees, so turn down that thermostat! Black-out curtains are great to keep the light out and you can use a white noise machine or earplugs to drown out sounds.
5. Set your sleep/wake schedule.
When we wake up and go to bed at the same time, seven days a week, our body gets regulated to this cycle. This is especially important on the weekends. Many of us often put ourselves into “jet lag” over the weekend. Imagine this – during the week, you fall asleep at 10 pm and wake up at 6 am. Then, you may fall asleep at midnight and wake up at 8 am on the weekend. You have put yourself in a 2-hour different time zone! No wonder waking up on Mondays is tough. Your body is off its schedule!
6. Give yourself at least 30 minutes of a wind-down
Utilize activities that put you in a state of calmness. Reading, yoga, meditation, stretching, or listening to soft music are great examples to try. On YouTube you can follow along with Yoga by Adrienne. She has a ton of restorative and bedtime classes for free! You could also start up your essential oil diffuser or candles and use scents that promote relaxation, like lavender.
7. Set your DAY up for a good night’s sleep.
If you can get outside in sunlight within 30 minutes of walking, this will help regulate your circadian rhythm. In the winter, this is more challenging. You can peak open a window and look out at the lightness while sipping your tea or enjoying a book and get similar benefits. If you are a caffeine drinker, try to stop your caffeine intake after 12 pm. If you must have caffeine, switch to teas afternoon. If you like a nightly cocktail, try to reduce this to 3 times a week and only have one or two beverages.