Sleep hygiene is the habits and routines that help you have a good night’s sleep. Bad sleep hygiene habits can often cause sleeping problems such as insomnia, that can often continue on for years if change in habits does not occur. Bad sleeping routines can also contribute to lack of sleep that can also display an effect on mental health, memory and productivity. Making a change in both sleep habits and lifestyle can dramatically improve both the quality and amount of sleep each night.
Although in some cases, lack of sleep can be associated to related anxieties or medical conditions. In many cases it can be found that people can simply improve their sleep cycle by making some slight adjustments and changes to their regular lifestyle routines.
Here are some tips to try that have proven to increase the quality of sleep.
Listen to your body clock.
The continuing sleep-wake cycle of our bodies is controlled by an internal ‘clock’ that functions within the brain to inform us when the body requires rest and when it is time to start the day. Most bodily processes are synchronised to this physiological clock, and so in order to get a good sleep, we must work in conjunction with our body clock and maintain regular bed and wake-up times.
- This can become regular routine by setting a consistent wake up time everyday. The routine will help to set your body clock, and initiate a sleepiness at about the same time every night.
- Don’t ignore tiredness and fatigue. If your body is telling you it’s ready to sleep, it’s time to go to bed. And don’t go to bed if you don’t feel tired, unnecessary naps will only reinforce bad habits.
- Be exposed to early morning sunshine. Being awake to light in the early hours of the day also assist to set your body clock.
Create a sleep friendly environment.
Good sleep is influenced by your surroundings. To encourage a good nights sleep, you should feel comfortable and restful in your bedroom. The senses of the room should also be quiet, dark and cool to ensure an easy transition into sleep time.
- Investing in a mattress that suits your comfort is also critical to sleep.
- If surrounding noises (such as barking dogs) cant be controlled, consider buying some earplugs to block out all sounds.
- Make sure your room is only used for sleep and intimacy. If your bedroom is used for watching television, doing emails or talking on the phone, your mind will associate your bedroom with activity and keep you restless throughout the night.
Relax your mind.
Insomnia and lying awake is most commonly caused by stress and worrying. If this is the case for you, try to relax your mind by following these steps.
- Switch off all electronics, including computers and mobile phones at least half an hour before you retire to bed. Checking emails and doing work before bed can often promote work related stress and cause the mind to continuously think of things you need to do. Switching of all devices allows you time to preoccupy your mind with other restful thoughts.
- Do some light reading before bed. Reading is one way your mind can block out the daily stresses and worries. By reading a few pages a night, your mind will become restful makes a great transition to sleep.
- Relaxation exercises. Conscious relaxation or meditation is a great way to shut down your body and prepare it for bedtime. By relaxing every part of your body and focussing on the rhythm of your breath allows your body and mind to slow down and relax.
Create a routine.
Try to establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine every night. Some regular rituals such as taking a hot bath or shower, reading, or listening to some light music will all contribute to the shutting down of your body. When a routine is practiced every night, your internal body clock will recognise these actions with sleep time and prepare the body for bed.
Enlisting each of these tips into your bedtime routine will help improve your quality of sleep and also kick start a consistent wakeup and bedtime pattern.