Chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems affect millions of people worldwide and can significantly diminish health, alertness and safety. Untreated sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Sleep problems can take many forms and can involve too little sleep, too much sleep or inadequate quality of sleep. This is an unmet public health problem that is only now being taken seriously by scientists and the public in general. Our 24/7 society as in large viewed sleeping or napping as a waste of potential productive time. Our time is stretched thin and sleeping time is forfeited most often.
To get enough sleep, sometimes, all you need is to change a few habits before bedtime. This “Sleep Hygiene”, meaning, the behaviours during the day, and especially before bedtime, can have a major impact on your sleep quality. Of course, keeping a clean and hygienic bed is important too.
According to the national sleep foundation, one of the most important sleep hygiene practices is to spend an appropriate amount of time asleep in bed, not too little but also not too much. How you ask? There are many ways, but here are 6 easy ones that are sure to work.
Chill out and relax before bedtime. A regular nightly routine helps the body recognize that it is bedtime. This could include taking a warm shower or bath, reading a book, or light stretches. When possible, try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before attempting to sleep.
Turn it off and get comfy. Mattress and pillows should be comfortable. The bedroom should be cool for optimal sleep. Bright light from lamps, cell phone and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep, so turn those off at least 30 minutes before. Consider using blackout curtains, eyeshades, earplugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices that can make the bedroom more relaxing.
Avoid drinking coffee, alcohol or smoking. While alcohol is well-known to help you fall asleep faster, too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.
Have a light dinner. Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can trigger indigestion for some people. When this occurs close to bedtime, it can lead to painful heartburn that disrupts sleep.
Exercise. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as jogging or cycling, can drastically improve nighttime sleep quality. For the best night’s sleep, most people should avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime. However, the effect of intense nighttime exercise on sleep differs from person to person, so find out what works best for you.
Get out in the sun. This is particularly important for individuals who may not venture outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.