Sleep Hygiene Techniques: Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits
Sleep hygiene techniques are effective methods that help you deal with a variety of different sleeping problems.
They are essentially a range of mindful lifestyle choices and healthy sleeping habits that will have a substantial effect on the quality of sleep you receive.
The action you want to take here is to remove the bad habits while replacing them with good habits.
Are Sleep Hygiene Techniques Something That Will Help Me Sleep Better At Night?
The answer to that question is yes. Sleep hygiene techniques are very effective. However, in order to receive all the benefits you have to put in the effort on a consistent basis.
Think of sleep hygiene techniques as gears in a machine with each individual part having a different piece of advice to examine.
Once these individual parts come together, you will be able to see how these advice tips work together to function as one machine that will help you receive a better night’s sleep.
Each technique varies in the time it takes for it to be effective. For example, going to sleep and waking up at the same time everyday can take roughly one to two weeks to restore.
The important take away is to stick with the technique, do not quit in the early stages and to give the technique enough time to work.
These are 20 techniques that you will find helpful:
1. Prioritize sleep as an important portion of your day
It should come as no surprise to you that we sacrifice important sleep time with other activities. However, if you struggle with insomnia it should come to reason that you need to change the way you view about how important sleep is to your health.
This needs to be a part of the day that has no interruptions of any kind. You need to protect this part of the day. Sleep needs to be valued just as highly as nutrition and exercise. They work together to keep you healthy and functioning properly.
2. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
This is one of the most effective techniques to improving your sleep patterns. At first, it might seem as though restoring your internal biological clock is a daunting task.
Rest assured (no pun intended) that your biological clock has a pattern of consistency letting you know when to feel sleepy and when to wake up. You can work with it and adjust it over a period of one to two weeks.
The thing keep in mind is always wake up at the same time everyday even if you do not go to sleep at the same time.
If your sleep schedule is out of its normal rhythm, you will find it to your advantage to read more about how to adjust your sleep schedule in the article below.
3. Do not lay in your bed if you cannot sleep
It is a terrible feeling to lie in your bed tossing and turning while watching the clock move slowly. This has happened to me before and it is not fun. This will only cause you to become more stressed.
This is an excellent indicator that you should only go to sleep when you feel tired.
Typically, it should only take twenty minutes to half an hour to be asleep. If you are still awake after this time period it will be better for you to get out of bed for a little while and then attempt to go back to sleep later.
While you are awake during this time, I recommend that you practice some of the bedtime routine habits in the next section.
4. Establish a relaxing night time routine
One of the causes of sleep problems for many people is an incredibly busy thought pattern in the brain. It can feel as though your mind has hit the turbo all the way up until you reach your scheduled bedtime.
Even when you try to unwind, your brain finds a way to stir up thoughts, concerns, and worries.
Schedule a period of time before you go to sleep. You should do something relaxing, this will give your mind a way to calm down and conclude a busy day.
This article explains more about night routine for adults.
5. Practice relaxation techniques
You can benefit greatly if you practice some relaxation techniques before going to sleep. The great thing about these techniques is that they also can be performed throughout the day.
These are a few techniques that you should try out:
- Guided Meditation
- The 4-7-8 Yoga Breathing Technique
- Deep Breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
If you find yourself unable to turn your mind off during the evening. These techniques are very effective because they divert your attention away from an overactive mind.
To learn more about relaxation techniques, click on this article below:
6. Reserve your bedroom for relaxation and sleep only
This technique will condition your mind with only these two activities: relaxation and sleep. Only choose relaxing low stimulating analog activities such as reading.
7. Create a comfortable environment for sleeping
Your bed, bedding and bedroom make a difference on how you sleep. Examine the following ideas and see how many of these ideas you have already established:
- Invest in the biggest bed that your budget will allow.
- Keep your space clean, organized, and free of obstructions.
- Prevent light from entering your bedroom by using blackout curtains. If blackout curtains are not your preference, a sleep mask is a great alternative.
- Control the climate in your bedroom to ensure that it does not feel too cold or too hot. The best temperature for sleeping ranges from 16 to 21 degrees Celsius or 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Select the correct mattress
Your mattress is the cornerstone of your bed. It is vital that you have a mattress that is not only comfortable, but supportive as well. Consider these points:
- Beds that have slats are ideal because they allow air to circulate underneath your mattress.
- When you lay on your back, you should have no issue sliding your hand between the mattress and your back.
- Your mattress should be large enough for you and your partner to fit comfortably on.
- Mattress should be replaced every 8 to 10 years.
If replacing your mattress is too costly, a great option would be a mattress topper. These are excellent because they can extend the life of an old mattress and there are different options such as cooling, heating, memory foam, and down type mattress toppers.
9. Select high quality pillows and bedding
Invest in the best quality bedding within your budget. If you have allergies use a hypoallergenic fabric and keep everything clean.
You should choose pillows and bedding that make you feel comfortable. In addition, some fabrics help manage your body temperature. The common types of fabrics are:
- Polyester– inexpensive and not nearly as comfortable as the other materials, however it does last a long time.
- Satin – has a nice feel, but is not very breathable.
- Cotton – breathable, soft, and very durable. Keep an eye out for thread count. A thread count of 350 or greater will indicate that it is softer than pillows with a thread count of less than 350. The best ones are Pima, Egyptian, or Microcotton.
- Silk– Excellent for those with allergies and works well during summer nights.
10. Insulate your bedroom from external noise
External noise such as loud trains, cars driving by, noisy neighbors, noises inside your home, and a snoring partner can all lead to restlessness. The good news is there are ways to dealing with such noisy disturbances:
- If you have someone in your home or a neighbor nearby making loud noises. Please calmly inform them to lower the volume. You deserve peace and quiet after a long hard day of working.
- Remember to check and turn off any noisy appliances. (An example would be a washing machine or a dryer located in another room)
- Put your headphones in and choose some relaxing music to listen to.
- If stopping the noise at the source does not work, a white noise machine or earplugs are devices that block out unwanted noise.
11. Do not use any electronic devices in your bedroom
It is recommended that you do not use electronic devices in your bedroom for the following reasons:
- Laptops, cellphones, tablets, and other electronic devices are addictive. These devices will make you continue watching videos, playing games, social media, text messaging and phone calls. This spells disaster if you are attempting to follow a structured sleep routine.
- Surfing the web and doing anything else online stimulates your mind and makes it more difficult for you to relax.
- The blue light that is emitted from the screen of your electronic devices mimics daylight and tricks your biological clock into thinking that it is still daytime, therefore your brain reduces amount of melatonin that is needed in order to help you feel drowsy and to go to sleep.
- You will lose precious sleep time that you need in order to function properly throughout the next day such as paying attention in school, your job and especially when operating any type of machinery.
12. Go outside and expose yourself to sunlight
Go for a walk outside on a sunny day. Sunlight regulates your biological clock and helps keep your brain in rhythm as to when there is daylight and when it is dark. As an added benefit, this is an excellent morale booster that will make you put you in a good mood and make you feel better.
13. Exercise on a regular basis
This technique is a personal favorite of mine. Exercise is one if not the best method to exhaust your mind and body.
Strenuous exercise has been known to tire you out to the point that you want to hit the hay. It is also a natural remedy to anxiety and stress.
By relieving anxiety/stress through exercise your body and mind will be much more relaxed. This in turn will help you unwind from your daily activities.
14. Foods that you can eat before you go to sleep
While there is no scientific research that any specific foods will help you sleep better at night. Some foods are definitely better than others to eat before going to sleep.
This is a list of light snacks that are good for controlling hunger at night:
- Low Fat Yogurt
- Cottage Cheese
15. Foods that you should not eat before you go to sleep
The types of foods you eat have an impact on how you sleep. The old saying of “You are what you eat” holds true to how healthy your sleep patterns are as well.
These are important food tips that you should consider:
- Consume your largest meal at lunchtime during the middle of the day. If that is not possible for you, have your dinner as early you can schedule it. It takes anywhere from six to eight hours for food to be digested. The important tip to take away from this bullet point is to not consume a large meal four to six hours before your scheduled bed time.
- Avoid eating any fatty, fried, or spicy foods before going to sleep.
- Eliminate any sugary foods later in the day.
- Do not eat any foods that contain a lot of processed carbohydrates in the evening hours.
16. Stay hydrated throughout the day
Drinking enough water throughout the day correlates to better sleep at night.
There are varying opinions on the amount of water that one should drink in order to stay hydrated. Factors such as your level of physical activity, body size, and age all have an impact on that amount.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink 2 liters of water a day.
Also remember that eating fruits and certain vegetables all add up towards your daily hydration requirement throughout the day.
I personally eat a good amount of cantaloupe, pineapple and celery on a regular basis. These foods have a high water content and contribute to the amount of water I drink as well.
In addition, if you drink carbonated water on a daily basis like I do that also counts towards your daily water requirement.
17. Do not drink beverages that contain caffeine in the evening
Every person is different in their caffeine tolerance while some people can drink caffeine in the evening and can go to sleep without any issue. Those with insomnia are not the type of people listed above.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, I recommend that you do not drink any drinks that contain caffeine because caffeine stays in your system for a long time. A normal 8 oz or 237 ml cup of coffee has 95mg of coffee.
It takes 45 to 60 minutes for 99 percent of the caffeine to be absorbed. The half-life is the time it takes for a substance to reduce its quantity by half its original amount. The half-life of caffeine is anywhere from four to six hours.
For example, if you drank one 8 oz cup of coffee at 7PM in the evening, you would receive 95mg of caffeine within or after the first hour.
Then four to six hours later at either 11PM, 12PM, or 1AM. You would still have 47.5 mg of caffeine remaining in your system that is keeping you alert at that time of the night.
The following beverages are ones to avoid if you are sensitive to caffeine:
- Energy drinks such as Redbull, Monster, Rockstar, AMP, and NOS.
- Pepsi, Coca Cola, or any other beverages that contain a lot of sugar.
- Decaffeinated coffee. (Surprisingly contains small amounts of caffeine)
- Green Tea.
- Oolong Tea.
- Black Tea.
A better option is to either drink water or herbal tea at night as both of these beverages do not contain caffeine. Herbal tea is an excellent choice because it contains ingredients such as chamomile, peppermint and valerian root to help promote relaxation.
18. Eliminate or reduce your alcohol consumption at night time
There are some people with insomnia that claim drinking alcohol helps them sleep faster at night. Some researchers have proven this to be true.
However, there are other researchers that have discovered that alcohol can throw off your REM sleep.
This can result with a sluggish feeling the following day.If you choose to consume alcohol during nighttime. I recommend that you limit yourself to a small amount.
19. Eliminate sleeping pills and take a note of the side effects
Sleeping pills are an option, but do not get into the habit of solely relying on them. There are rebound effects that happen when you stop taking them.
Take a note of any possible side effects on the label of the prescription bottle or you can consult a medical professional for more information.
Feeling restless and insomnia are side effects that can happen.
20. Eliminate smoking
Nicotine is not only addictive it is also a stimulant. Stimulants keep you awake preventing you from relaxing and falling asleep.
If you must smoke do not smoke one to two hours before your bedtime. This is another reason to quit smoking.
Your wallet and your health will thank you for that action.
Sleep hygiene techniques are effective in helping you deal with a variety of different sleeping problems. Everything from a noisy environment to using electronic devices late at night can cause disruptions to your sleep patterns.
The important steps to take are to be mindful of these disturbing sleep habits and to replace them with good habits that will benefit you. Changing habits takes time, however putting the effort on a consistent basis is what you should strive for.
Soon enough these good habits you practice everyday will become second nature.
Have you established any of these healthy habits?
Are there any habits that I did not cover in this article?
I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to share your comments.
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