Health Teaser: Good Sleep Hygiene
09/ 06/ 2016
Having trouble sleeping?
Falling asleep may seem like an impossible dream when you’re awake at 3 a.m., but good sleep is more under your control than you might think. Sleep hygiene may sound unimaginative, but it just may be the best way to get the sleep you need in this 24/7 age. Here are some simple tips for making the sleep of your dreams a nightly reality:
- 1 .Stick to your sleep schedule
– Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover.
- 2. Nap early – or not at all Late-day naps decrease sleep drive. If you must nap, it’s better to keep it short and before 5 p.m.
- 3. Don’t get tensed.
Stimulating activities should be avoided 3 hours before bedtime. Examples include tense movies, exciting novels, thrilling television shows, arguments, and vigorous physical exercise other than sex.
- 4. Don’t be a nighttime clock-watcher
Staring at a clock in your bedroom, either when you are trying to fall asleep or when you wake in the middle of the night, can actually increase stress, making it harder to fall asleep. Turn your clock’s face away from you.
- 5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep
As any coffee lover knows, caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. So avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and some pain relievers) for four to six hours before bedtime. Similarly, smokers should refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime.
- 6. Lighten up on evening meals
Eating a pepperoni pizza at 10 p.m. may be a recipe for insomnia. Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause indigestion.
7. Balance fluid intake
Drink enough fluid at night to keep from waking up thirsty—but not so much and so close to bedtime that you will be awakened by the need for a trip to the bathroom.
8. Exercise early
Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly—as long as it’s done at the right time. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed or work out earlier in the day
- 9. Turn your bedroom into a sleep-inducing environment
A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound slumber. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light, a powerful cue that tells the brain that it’s time to wake up. And make sure your bedroom is equipped with a comfortable mattress and pillows. (Remember that most mattresses wear out after ten years.)
- 10. Follow through
Some of these tips will be easier to include in your daily and nightly routine than others. Stick with them and your chances of achieving restful sleep will improve. That said, not all sleep problems are so easily treated and could signify the presence of a sleep disorder. If your sleep difficulties don’t improve through good sleep hygiene, you may want to consult your physician or a sleep specialist.
Source: American Sleep Association and Harvard Medical School Sleep Medicine Division