Falling asleep can sometimes be frustrating, and who can’t relate to waking up in the middle of the night feeling wide awake? Researchers have termed the phrase “sleep hygiene” to refer to specific habits and practices that can contribute to getting a good night’s sleep. As part of your New Year’s Resolutions, try following these tips to help you establish a healthier sleep routine.
1. Know How Much Sleep You Need
As a general rule, most adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. You may need more or less than this depending on your needs. Pay attention to how rested you feel during the day and experiment with the amount of time you sleep - this should help you to determine what amount of sleep works best for you.
2. Go To Bed At the Same Time Every Night
Consistency is the key to establishing a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time and set the alarm to wake up at the same time every morning.
3. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Before Going to Sleep
Stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate and cola should be avoided for four to six hours before bedtime. Alcohol may initially make you feel sleepy, but it decreases your quality of sleep later in the night.
4. Power Down
Turn off computers, TVs, cellphones and other blue light sources an hour before you go to bed. Blue light can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin which can affect your quality of sleep.
5. Increase Bright Light Time During the Day
Just like blue light can affect your sleep at night, natural sunlight or bright light in the daytime helps to keep your circadian rhythms healthy. With exposure to sunlight or bright light, daytime energy improves as well as nighttime sleep quality.
6. Create a Healthy Sleep Environment
A dark, cool room is the best for getting a restful sleep. Cooler temperatures help your body thermoregulate while you sleep. Ensure that you have a comfortable mattress and pillows as these can help to promote a good night’s sleep.
7. Don’t Lie in Bed Awake
If you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. The anxiety that comes from not being able to fall asleep affects your ability to relax which in turn, affects your ability to fall asleep.
8. Be Careful With Naps
While taking a nap during the day may feel rejuvenating when you’re tired, it can disrupt your normal sleep cycle. If you do feel the need to take a nap, limit it to a power nap of 30 minutes or less.
9. Relax and Clear Your Mind
A pre-sleep routine can help you to relax. Listening to relaxing music, reading a book, meditation or taking a hot bath are all helpful practices to incorporate into your bedtime routine.
10. Seek Medical Advice
If you continue to have difficulty sleeping, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Check with a health professional and/or sleep expert to rule out conditions such as sleep apnea. As a first step, try taking this sleep study quiz to determine if this may be an issue.