Importance of Sleep Hygiene
Ever heard people bandy around the words 'sleep hygiene' and wonder what on earth they mean by it?! Wonder no more people.
Sleep hygiene doesn't refer to hygiene in the 'normal sense' of 'cleanliness, dirt removal, sanitisation etc'. It refers to the rituals & environment you create for yourself in order to have a peaceful, pleasant and rejuvenating nights sleep.
Why is it important?
Rejuvenating and restful sleep is incredibly important for physical, mental and emotional well being. Lack of sleep has been shown to slow reflexes to the same level as someone who is intoxicated, can cause hallucinations, paranoia and can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety and stress to manifest.
What can we do?
Below is a list of tried & true sleep hygiene rituals & objectives you can do each night to help improve your sleep.
1. Go to bed & wake at a regular time. The hardest issue to combat in irregular sleep patterns, is irregular bed / wake times. Even if you do not fall asleep quickly, go to bed at the same time each night and relax. Over time your body will recognise this is 'sleep time' and will regulate itself. Its also important that as soon as you wake up each day, to expose yourself to natural light. This will help melatonin levels to drop away, and serotonin levels to rise. Included in this is NO SCREEN TIME BEFORE BED.
2. Exercise daily. Even just 10-20 minutes a day can help with your bed time sleep. Exercise releases endorphins such as serotonin, which converts into melatonin at night time. More serotonin floating around - the more melatonin - the better you will sleep.
3. Avoid caffeine / Nicotine / Alcohol / Stimulants - not only are the above taxing on your liver & adrenals, they also drastically impact your sleep quality. Avoid 4-6 hours before bed time.
4. Nothing but sleep & sex. Use your bed purely for sleeping & sex and your body all make this connection. If you use your bed to watch movies, play games or eat, then your body will not make this connection at all.
5. Temperature. Sleeping in the correct temperature will make your sleep so much more rejuvenating. If you are too hot, you will not sleep and same if you are too cold. Your body naturally decreases its temperature when getting ready to fall asleep, you can help speed along the process by having your room temperature between 15-19 degrees Celsius.
6.No Naps - although an afternoon nap may make you feel better when your eyes feel like they are hanging gout of your head, this will disrupt your night time sleeping. If you do require a afternoon pick me up, try and nap for no more than 30 minutes at a time.
7. Clock watching - tempting as it may be, try and avoid clock watching if you are struggling to fall asleep. Looking at the light will only make you more alert, and seeing the time is going to do nothing but reinforce the frustration y our already feeling by not being asleep already. Its a hard habit to break, but definitely worth it.
8. Rituals - this is my favourite which is why it has been left till last. Rituals are things that you can do for yourself, to help unwind and prepare your body &mind for sleep. For me the first thing is having a calm & quiet environment around me as chaos around me causes chaos in my brain. Other rituals I have part from teeth brushing etc, is stretching & deep breathing, smelling essential oils (lavender) for sleep (smell also triggers sensory & physiological responses in the body), making sure the room is all closed up / tucked in for the night & light reading in bed before going to sleep. Your rituals can be anything you want them to be, I just find that these work best for me.
Good luck everybody & if your still having trouble sleeping, please book in to see Christina here to see how she can help you get your sleeping habits and life back on track.