Sleep plays a vital role in our overall health and well-being. It helps us feel refreshed and energized, boosts our immune system, and improves our cognitive function. Poor sleep hygiene can lead to insomnia, daytime fatigue, and other health issues. Here are some tips for improving your sleep quality and establishing good sleep hygiene.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body's internal clock and can improve the quality of your sleep. It's also important to avoid retiring to bed before you have been up and awake for at least 16 hours, as going to bed too early can lead to sleep fragmentation. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 16 hours up and 8 hours in bed.
- Create a relaxing sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Use blackout curtains or eye masks to block out light, and earplugs or white noise machines to block out noise.
- Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime: Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers for at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with your sleep. Instead, engage in relaxing activities such as reading a book or taking a warm bath.
- Relax and let go: When we try to fall asleep, we engage our attention system, which is responsible for keeping us alert and focused. However, in order to fall asleep, our attention system needs to be turned off. This means that trying too hard to fall asleep can be self-defeating and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Instead, it's important to relax and let go. This might involve practicing deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation to calm your mind and body before bed. Journaling your worries and upcoming schedule gives your mind permission to let go.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption: Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, so avoid consuming it for at least 6 hours before bedtime. Alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle and lead to fragmented sleep, so limit your consumption and avoid drinking within a few hours of bedtime.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep but avoid exercising within a few hours of bedtime as it can stimulate your body and make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Manage stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help manage stress and anxiety.
- Get enough natural light exposure: Exposure to natural light during the day can help regulate your body's internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep at night. Try to spend time outside during the day or use bright light therapy if you can't get enough natural light.
By following these tips, you can improve your sleep quality and establish good sleep hygiene. If you continue to struggle with sleep despite making these changes, call us at Live Well Psychiatry for an evaluation to determine whether your sleep difficulties may be part of something larger.
- National Sleep Foundation. (2021). Sleep hygiene. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2020). Healthy sleep habits. https://aasm.org/resources/factsheets/sleephygiene.pdf
- Riemann, D., Baglioni, C., Bassetti, C., Bjorvatn, B., Dolenc Groselj, L., Ellis, J. G., ... & Spiegelhalder, K. (2017). European guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of insomnia. Journal of Sleep Research, 26(6), 675-700.