The 4 Pillars of Sleep Hygiene
Updated: Jul 12, 2021
Sleep hygiene is a combination of words that you don’t come by very often. However, if you suffer from sleep disorders, you should take note. Sleep hygiene is a set of guidelines and habits that helps you get enough sleep at night so that you can be alert and active during the day. It’s a list of things you should and shouldn’t do to sleep well.
Sleep hygiene can help you avoid sleep disorders and instilling them in your children from a young age would help them develop and retain good sleeping habits that can help your children be healthier, happier, and more productive. Here are a few signs that tell you if you need to practice sleep hygiene:
Sluggishness during the daytime and sleeplessness at night
Sleep onset delay
Anxiety before falling asleep
Waking up once or several times in the middle of the night
Insufficient duration of sleep
You’re moody or cranky in the morning
You find it hard to wake up in the morning
These are a few issues among many that can be linked with the lack of proper sleep hygiene. With the correct adjustments, you can get relief from these issues and get more out of your day. With the four pillars of sleep hygiene, things get easier and you don’t have to worry about questions like “How to sleep fast?” or “How much sleep do I need?”
The Pillars of Sleep Hygiene
1. Bedtime Schedule - The first thing you need to fix your sleep disorders is to fabricate a bedtime routine and strictly follow it. You need to sync your sleep and waking cycle to other body cycles. That means you need to harmonize your sleep cycle with your hormone activity, dietary schedule, metabolism, and more. You have to hit that balance and here’s what you need to achieve it:
Set a regular waking time and bedtime that syncs with your schedule. For instance, you don’t need to wake up sharp at six in the morning if your job hours send you home at around 10 in the night. It needs to be practical and realistic.
Be consistent with your bedtime and waking time throughout the week. If you need adjustments during the weekend, it can’t be more than an hour in either direction of the clock.
You also need to make sure that you get an adequate amount of sleep between your bedtime and waking time. If you wonder “How much sleep do I need?”, experts recommend around 8 hours of sleep and you can get an extra hour on weekends if you can stretch your bedtime routine.
Think of the bedtime schedule as your biological clock that helps sync your bodily rhythms.
2. Bedtime Routine - If you’re prepared for something, you usually do a better job. The same holds for your sleep. A regular bedtime routine that stretches to half an hour till you hit the mattress can help you get a good night’s rest. When you wind down before bed, you fall asleep quickly and easily. Thirty minutes before bedtime avoid activities that may excite you in any way.
Here’s a small list:
Watching TV dramas
Heavy emotional conversations
Consumption of high volume of liquid like juice, alcohol, or water
Eating products that contain a lot of caffeine - sodas, caffeinated teas, coffee, chocolate, etc.
Exercise or any form of workout
Sugary snacks and big meals
While you should avoid big meals and sugary snacks, small portions of snacks with a high carb and protein content can help you stay asleep.
Here are some good bedtime routines that you can follow to wind down before bedtime:
Listening to tranquil and calming music
Read a book
Take a warm bath
Leave your phone on the side table and practice mindfulness
You can also make time for sex and include cuddling and kissing with your partner into the bedtime routine. It releases the “love hormone” oxytocin that can help you relax and sleep better.
3. Bedroom Environment - The environmental conditions of your bedroom also play a major role in your sleep. Here’s what you can do to improve it:
Adjust your bedroom temperature to the level that’s comforting to you. Ideally, a cool environment helps you stay asleep, and any place that crosses the 75-degree mark can keep you up at night or lead to nighttime wakings. Set your air conditioner settings to a cool temperature and program it to maintain that temperature throughout the night.
Darken your room and switch off any bright lights.
Make sure that you get good air ventilation by keeping the bedroom door open or with a ceiling fan. Windows aren’t ideal due to safety reasons.
If you live in a noisy neighborhood, install cheap soundproofing panels in your room and seal the door and window gaps with foam or other such material.
Don’t use the bed for anything other than sleeping. This helps your body naturally associate it with sleep.
4. Daytime Habits - You also need to change your daytime habits for better sleep.
Limit your daytime naps to less than 15 minutes and avoid them completely if possible. It shouldn’t be a surprise that sleeping during the day adversely affects your sleep duration at night.
Exercise and work out regularly for at least half an hour. It doesn’t just help you sleep faster at night, but also helps you to spend more time in deep sleep and feel extra refreshed when you wake up.
Change your diet to be more healthy with fewer carbs, artificial trans fats, and sugary substances. Introducing superfood like coconut oil in your diet can also help you sleep better. It aids in the production of sleep hormones and helps you avoid blood sugar level irregularities during sleep.
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