With the rise in fatigue, brain fog, and poor memory I always start at the beginning, sleep. Sleep is foundational for your brain power and energy levels. That’s not a shocking statement right? When you sleep poorly you know that you are not going to be the best version of yourself the next day. What might be shocking a shocking statement is that many people are sleeping wrong! Yes, you can sleep wrong. How? Through poor sleep hygiene.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is a variety of strategies and behaviours that focus on improving the quality of sleep. It is important because it uses super simple strategies to promote a better sleep quality.
Strategies to improve sleep
Create a comfortable sleep environment. Make sure your mattress is comfortable, fresh, and supportive. Ensure that your room is a comfortable temperature with minimal noise and light.
Relax. Before bed, take time to relax your mind and body i.e. hot bath, meditation, calming music, etc. (Progressive muscle relaxation)
You can eat before bed. A light snack before bed can help promote sleep. Focus on a high protein foods i.e. light cheeses and crackers, turkey, etc. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods.
Exercise. Exercise tends to promote a more restful sleep. Moderate intensity aerobic exercise for 30 minutes per day has the greatest positive impact on sleep. The best time to exercise is the late afternoon or early evening. Exercising less than 2 hours before bedtime can interfere with your sleep.
Set a bedtime routine. Having a bedtime routine tells your body when it is time for bed.
Establish a fixed awakening time. Try waking up at the same time every day regardless of how you feel in the morning. This will help establish a regular sleep rhythm.
Sleep only when tired. If you go to bed when you are not tired you will lie in bed frustrated that you cannot sleep.
The bed is just for sleeping. Your bed should only be used to sleep (and sex). Avoid working, watching TV, reading, or studying in bed. This will establish an association between bed and sleep which will promote sleep.
Get out of bed. If you cannot sleep within 20-30 minutes after you go to bed, then get out of bed. You can try activities that are boring or relaxing to promote sleepiness. When you feel sleepy, try to go back to bed.
Go outside. Spend time outdoors or in areas with lots of natural light. This will help establish your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Avoid worrying about not sleeping, it will actually make your sleep worse. Stop focusing on the number of hours of sleep and stop looking at the clock.
- Avoid caffeine for at least 4 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate.
- Avoid smoking before bed because it too can be a stimulant and interfere with sleep
- Avoid alcohol before bed. It is often believed that alcohol can promote sleep, however, it interferes with your deeper sleep later in the evening
- Avoid naps that are greater than 30 minutes long. This will interfere with your sleep-wake cycle
Yours in health,
Yazdi Z, Loukzadeh Z, Moghaddam P, Jalilolghadr S. Sleep Hygiene Practices and Their Relation to Sleep Quality in Medical Students of Qazvin University of Medical Sciences. J Caring Sci. 2016;5(2):153-60.