4 Things You Should Know About Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is defined as the habits and practices of an individual that contribute to quality sleep. It also deals with how lifestyle choices can support healthy sleep. Below are some essential things you should know about it.
1) 6-8 hours of sleep every night is necessary for good health
Sleep deprivation may lead to many serious problems, including poor concentration, irritability or moodiness during the day, obesity, higher blood pressure levels, heart disease, and diabetes. To gain the full benefits of sleep in terms of healing and repair this needs to be 7-9 hours in total darkness uninterrupted sleep - no watching TV etc in bed! In the words of a health and well-being blog RouseGood.com, sleep is considered good if the amount of time spent sleeping helps you feel more awake, focused, and ready to tackle your day. There is no established number of sleep hours due to the different biological makeup of people. Some people feel fine sleeping below seven hours, while others need at least seven hours of sleep to function normally the next day. A good rule of thumb is to set your sleep hours somewhere in between, and that’s 6-8 hours. Having a consistent routine of sleeping uninterrupted makes you feel well-rested, alert, and focused throughout the day. Getting to sleep mode during nighttime should be easy too, once you establish this sleep habit.
2) A relaxed body will slide easily into a restful sleep
Going to bed too early leaves your body still feeling energized when it should be resting. Many people experience over-tiredness because they go to bed too early. The body's natural circadian rhythm (biological clock) regulates sleep and it is driven by blue light, which is present in daylight and televisions and computer screens. It takes around 2 hours for the body to clear away enough of the blue light we absorb during the day for 'true' darkness to take over and allow restful sleep. This means that if you sleep before 11 PM, even though your head might hit the pillow at 10:30 PM, your body won't be ready for deep restorative sleep until nearly 1 AM - meaning you will be sleeping lightly or tossing and turning.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night. This will train your body to know when it's time for you to start feeling tired, which makes falling asleep easier. If you feel yourself waking up in the middle of the night, this is either because you are not sleeping deeply enough or because your body has trained itself to wake up earlier than intended. Both cases can be fixed by going to bed on a schedule rather than whenever you get tired throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is that if you have trouble waking up before 11 AM, then midnight should be your cut-off point for being in bed each night.
3) Your room should be used only for sleeping
If you use your bedroom as a place to watch TV, check your email, or social media then you are not giving your body the signal that it needs to be ready for sleep. Your room should also be cool (between 60-67 degrees) with no noise or light. Make your room a place that is conducive to sleeping by removing anything that could be distracting or annoying. For example, if you have a TV in your bedroom, take it out and put it in the living room. If you have a pet, give them a place in another room to sleep so they don't disturb you when you are trying to sleep. Put your smartphone and other digital devices out of reach, or better yet, out of your room.
4) Don't eat too much before bed
If you have a big meal late in the evening, at least 3 hours before going to bed, your digestive system will have more work to do than is good for it when it really needs to be resting in preparation for deep levels of restorative sleep. Your stomach has to produce extra acid and enzymes which can keep you awake. Worse still if after eating your last supper, followed by lying down in bed with all that food digesting in your stomach, this can put pressure on the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) and cause reflux - where acid from your stomach can rise back up into the esophagus, which often leads to chronic coughs, as well as sour taste in the mouth and bad breath. If you want to go down this route then it is better to eat a lighter meal that is more easily digestible 2-3 hours before bedtime.
These are some important things to keep in mind if you want to improve your sleep hygiene. The main idea is that you should increase the percentage of time you spend sleeping each night. This could be done by going to bed earlier or by eliminating anything that might prevent you from falling asleep quickly. Good sleep hygiene will improve your overall quality of life.