When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed and ready for the day? Or do you wake up feeling groggy, tired, and hitting the snooze button until the last possible minute? If the second option sounds more like you, then maybe it’s time to take a look at your sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene, much like regular hygiene, is something you should take care of daily. It involves a number of habits or behaviors that you can do to ensure you get a good night’s sleep, which is important for improving both your mental and physical health. The best part is that there are just a few things you can do that can make a big impact on how well you sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends doing the following to improve sleep hygiene:
1. If you’re going to take a nap during the day, which can be helpful for improving your mood or focus, try to keep it under 30 minutes. Anything longer can throw off your nighttime sleep schedule.
2. Avoid caffeine and other substances that stimulate you before bed. This one is for obvious reasons.
3. Exercise daily. Even a 10 minute walk on your lunch break can make a difference.
4. Be careful about what you eat as a bedtime snack. Those rich, fatty, spicy, or fried foods can cause discomfort and therefore disrupt your sleep.
5. Soak up some daylight. If you work overnights, this may be difficult, but getting exposed to daylight (and darkness at night) helps your body to know when it should be awake or asleep.
6. Get into a routine. Find a nightly ritual that helps you relax — stretching, taking a bath, reading a book, but avoid electronics as those tend to stimulate the brain rather than calm it.
7. Create a relaxing environment. Use bedding and pillows that feel good, keep the room temperature low if possible, and minimize light (and noise) from things like cellphones and TVs.
Read through this list. Count how many of these things you’re already doing, and take a look at where you have room for improvement. Keep these in mind as you or your kiddos begin to wean off that summertime schedule in preparation for fall. Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for our daily lives. It may not be easy to break bad habits, but your mind and body will thank you.
Written by Elise Browne, MS
References: National Sleep Foundation. (2017). What is Sleep Hygiene? Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-hygiene
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