For the lucky ones, sleep comes easily and naturally. They hit the sack and they’re out like a light. For the rest of us, who find ourselves tossing and turning late into the night, there are sleep hygiene skills that can increase your chances of getting a good night’s rest.
For starters, what is sleep hygiene? Sleep hygiene consists of the practices and rituals you engage in to prepare yourself for sleep. Some of us engage in good sleep hygiene while others may be new to the concept. Wherever you fall on the sleep hygiene spectrum, here are some tips which can help you sleep like a log.
Create a Routine
Creating rituals prior to bedtime can cue your body to go into “sleep mode” and begin the slow down process. Brainstorm some ideas for relaxing activities that you can incorporate into a routine such as meditating, using essential oils, taking a hot bath, or engaging in deep breathing exercises. Maintaining a consistent sleep time and wake up time on weekdays and weekends is also key to establishing a rhythm to your sleep cycle. Power down your electronics and devices that emit blue light at least an hour before your bedtime.
Maintaining an exercise regimen is recommended to help you sleep and when you exercise is all-important. Avoid scheduling your workouts too late in the day and no less than 3 hours before your intended bedtime. Try to workout in the early morning or in the early afternoon.
Use Your Bedroom For Sleep
While we may think our bedroom is just another room in the house, the bedroom should be strictly reserved for sleep. This cues your brain to associate your bedroom with sleep. Try to keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature with minimal light coming in through any blinds or windows when you’re trying to sleep. When morning arrives, open your blinds to let in natural light which indicates to your brain that it’s no longer time to sleep.
Avoid Large Meals Before Bedtime
It’s okay to get a small snack before bed but eating a large meal may interrupt your sleep. Also avoid sleeping on a completely empty stomach as that might also interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Consider eating foods that induce sleepiness such as turkey, whole grains, almonds, or bananas. Supplements such as melatonin, valerian root, magnesium, and L-Theanine may also be instrumental in helping you get your zzz’s.
Accept that Rest is Still Rest
If you find yourself continuing to not sleep for more than 20 minutes after getting into bed, try getting up and doing something non-stimulating such as reading a user manual or a dictionary. Don’t reach for the dictionary if you’re a major word buff though! Try to sleep again when you start feeling drowsy. Another option is to accept that you aren’t fully falling asleep but also acknowledging that rest is rest, regardless if you’re reaching a deep sleep or not.
“Health is wealth”, a mantra Jessica’s mother regularly repeated throughout her childhood. Jessica values achieving balance and wholeness in both arenas of mental and physical health. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a practicing mental health therapist, Jessica promotes healthy living, self-care, mindfulness, and above all, kindness towards self.