Do you struggle to get a good night’s sleep?
For so many of us, the struggle is real.
Deep, quality, restful sleep can be very elusive, and there is a variety of reasons for this. Yet it is so important to address this issue if it is a problem for you. Understanding and practising sleep hygiene play a significant role when it comes to better sleep.
Why does a good night’s sleep on most nights matter so much? Deep restful sleep is essential for your physical and mental health. It results in higher levels of productivity, a better quality of life, and improved personal safety, especially when it comes to safety in the workplace and on the road. It is essential for both adults and children.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
“Sleep hygiene” is a term that refers to certain lifestyle habits and practices which enable you to have a good night’s sleep on most nights.
Bad habits can specifically and negatively impact your ability to sleep well. These poor habits can lead to ongoing sleep issues including insomnia, nightmares and night terrors, light-sleeping and poor sleep cycling, nighttime wakefulness, snoring, and daytime fatigue, fogginess, and drowsiness. These habits can become reinforced over time, even from childhood and adolescence, and may have effects that last for many years.
When you actively adopt simple healthy habits, you can dramatically improve the quality of sleep you achieve. This is sleep hygiene.
Tips for Sleep Hygiene
Obey your Body Clock
The brain controls internal processes including body temperature, wakefulness, and the sleep-wake cycle. Working with your body clock will deliver you a better night’s sleep.
Tips to work with your natural body clock include:
- Go to bed only when you feel sleepy
- Get up at the same time every day – even weekends
- Get plenty of natural sunlight early in the day
Create a Calm and Restful Sleeping Environment
- Invest in a comfortable, good quality mattress
- Ensure your bedroom is dark
- Facilitate a cool (not cold) room temperature
- Make your bedroom a quiet place (use earplugs during sleep if necessary)
- Do not use your bedroom for working or watching TV – sleep, sex, and bedtime reading only!
- Turn your clock away during the night so you can’t watch the time
Have a warm milk drink or chamomile tea before bedtime. A warm bath can also help you feel sleepy, as can using lavender oil on your pillow. If you enjoy reading, read before sleep but don’t use a backlit device such as an iPad to read on. Focus on relaxed breathing to help you fall asleep. If you are a worrier, write down your worries so you can leave them behind for the night. If important, they can be addressed tomorrow.
Don’t use Sedatives or other Drugs.
Don’t be tempted to use sleeping pills, which are not a “fix”; they simply mask the causes of sleep issues and result in daytime sleepiness (as well as other detrimental health effects).
Cigarettes act as a stimulant and prevent deep sleep.
Caffeine hinders sleep. Avoid caffeine from late afternoon. Choose herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee at night.
It’s true that alcohol is a depressant and may help you fall asleep quickly. It also, however, disrupts your natural sleep patterns, and this results in nighttime wakefulness as well as the need to wake to go to the toilet during the night. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation and not too soon before bedtime.
Other Sleep Hygiene Tips include:
- Exercise regularly – but not too close to bedtime.
- Cooler body temperature is conducive to sleep. If the weather is hot, have a cool bath or shower.
- Turn off digital devices including your phone at least an hour before sleep.
- Avoid daytime napping.
- Eat dinner earlier in the evening and avoid heavy meals as these put a strain on digestion, which hinders sleep.
- Address snoring and sleep apnoea – use a medical-grade device like ApneaRX and see your doctor is required.
ApneaRX is the NZ brand of an innovative oral sleep device that has helped thousands of people all over the world get relief from snoring for a better night’s sleep. The ApneaRX device is a mouth guard designed by medical scientists and engineers to help alleviate snoring by gently repositioning the lower jaw during sleep and opening the upper airways. It may also be helpful for those who suffer from sleep apnoea.
ApneaRX is micro-adjustable and suitable for use by adults of all ages.