What Is Sleep Hygiene & How to Get Good Natural Night Sleep
What is Sleep Hygiene?
The term “hygiene” is often misunderstood as strictly being synonymous with “cleanliness.” The true meaning of hygiene has to do with sets of practices, habits, and environmental inﬂuences that impact one’s health. Sleep hygiene is composed of practices that facilitate getting quality sleep every-night; leaving you feeling awake and refreshed every day.
Hygiene of all kinds is important to your health and well-being as most are aimed at reducing your chances of coming into contact with diseases, infections, germs, viruses, and cavities. Sleep hygiene is no different than other types of hygiene as it is aimed at improving your sleep, and subsequent overall health.
Importance of Quality Sleep
When you sleep, your body is hard at work preparing for the next day. In the brain, pathways are being formed that are critical to learning new things, processing information, and storing important memories. So Your physical and mental health depend on sleep
Sleep deficiency can lead to difficulties in making decisions, problem-solving, and controlling emotions and behaviors. Sleep deprivation is also linked to depression, risk-taking, and suicidal thoughts.
Your physical health is also dependent on good quality sleep. During sleep, your body is repairing and regenerating bones, muscle tissues, and the various systems of your body.
Insufficient or deprived sleep can lead to many health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke among others.
The strength of your immune system is also codependent upon quality sleep. Studies have shown that poor sleep can lead to the body having trouble fighting infections.
Sleep Deprivation and Impact on Mental Health:
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to sustain one’s attention or attentiveness
- Chronic stress
- Symptoms of depression
Impact on Performance due to Sleep Deprivation:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Poor decision-making abilities
- Lack of overall energy
- Easily distracted
- Decreased sex drive
- Short-term and long-term memory problems
- Lowered alertness and reaction timing
- More likely to make errors and mistakes
- Cognitive impairment
Health Problems Associated with Sleep Deprivation:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Increased risk of stroke
- Irregular heartbeat/arrhythmia’s
- Obesity/weight gain
Natural Sleep Aids and Remedies
Below are 20 solutions explained to help you how to get good sleep.
Changing Your Personal Habits
Personal habits consist of things you do from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to bed at night.
Make changes to your daily routine by eliminating unhealthy sleep habits and promoting habits that facilitate better sleep. Health habits include creating a consistent bedtime routine, exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, avoiding eating close to bedtime, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, getting plenty of natural light, and practicing relaxation techniques.
Exercise breeds energy and also helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Exercise in the late afternoon is best for sleep because the physical activity helps wear us out, and the post-workout body temperature drop helps cool the body, making sleep come more readily. However, exercise too close to bedtime can make sleep difficult to come, as your body doesn’t have enough time to cool itself off.
Eat healthy Food and Avoid Fatty Foods
It’s no secret that some foods are great for sleep, and others can help keep us awake at night. Fatty foods, processed carbs, and spicy foods are the worst for sleep. Foods high in fat and processed carbs don’t have the nutrients and vitamins your body needs to produce energy, leaving you feeling sluggish during the day. Spicy foods, eaten too close to bedtime, can disrupt your sleep by causing acid reflux, which can disturb your sleep. Foods that promote sleep are those that are high in amino acids, proteins, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Have a Regular Bedtime Routine
Getting into a regular routine of going to bed and rising at the same time every day is one of the most important practices you can perform for better sleep. Part of keeping a healthy bedtime routine is to keep it up even on the weekends by avoiding staying up late and sleeping in. Depriving yourself of sleep during the midweek and binge-sleeping on the weekends does more harm to your sleep cycles than good.
Do You Snore At Night?
If you snore and if snoring happens frequently it can affect the quantity and quality of your sleep. There are many other effective solutions available to help. Learn natural ways to stop snore
Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine Close to Bedtime
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that, when taken within 3 hours of bedtime, can make it difficult to go to sleep or stay asleep until the chemicals wear off. Many people may recognize that drinks such as soda, tea, and coffee contain caffeine, but may not realize that foods such as chocolate also contain caffeine.
Don’t Eat Close to Bedtime
Eating too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep, mostly because it gets your stomach acids going, and lying down can cause those acids to creep up into your throat. If you’re really craving a late-night snack, try a bowl of cereal with milk or cheese and crackers. These types of foods are rich in minerals, such as tryptophan and calcium, which help promote sleep.
Avoid Alcohol Before Bedtime
Many people falsely believe that alcohol helps promotes sleep as it makes them drowsy and more likely to fall asleep quicker. However, once your body begins to metabolize the alcohol there is a period of arousal, which disturbs one’s sleep.
Sync with light
Your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates periods of sleep and wakefulness, is triggered by light and darkness. Getting ample amounts of natural light during the day and less light at night helps keep your circadian rhythm in harmony with the external world.
Practice Relaxation Techniques Before Bedtime
To help get your body and mind prepared for sleep, try some relaxing activities to prepare yourself for sleep. Dwelling on problems or bringing arguments to bed can keep you awake and worrying. Activities such as meditating, praying, and stretching can help ease the stresses in the body and mind before bedtime. Writing your frustrations out in a journal can also be therapeutic and stress relieving.
Create a Loving Sleep Environment
Where you sleep can have a dramatic impact on how you sleep. Maximizing your sleep environment can influence the quality of sleep you get every night.
Change How You Think About Your Bedroom
One of the biggest keys in maximizing the efficiency for sleep in your room is what you associate your room with. Ideally, your room should be used for two purposes only: sleep and romance. Everything else done in your room serves no other purpose than to distract you from sleep. But how do you improve your room so that it’s only associated with sleep?
Keep Away From Electronics Before Sleep
All electronic devices including TVs, tablets, laptops, cellphones, portable gaming systems, and e-readers should be ditched before bedtime. For starters, the content may be stimulating and keeping you awake as you play “just one more game” or read “just one more post.” Furthermore, the light-emitting from these devices is similar in wave-length to daylight and can trick your circadian rhythm into believing it’s daylight and delay the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.
Keep Your Bedroom Quiet
Noise can keep you awake so make sure your room is as free of unnecessary sounds as possible. If you’re still having trouble sleeping because of noisy neighbors or others in the house consider using earplugs to block out sound or try “white noise.” Fans and sound machines that make continuous rhythmic sounds can be both relaxing and aid in drowning out distracting or sudden noises.
Keep Your Sleep Room Dark
Light is bad for sleep as it can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Keep your room dark by using heavy window shades, wearing a sleep mask, and avoiding staring at glowing electronics. If you refuse to remove your cellphone from the room, one helpful tip is to flip it over, screen-side down, during bedtime. Many phones light up when there’s an incoming text, email, or push notification from an app that may distract you from sleep or even wake you from sleep.
Try Sleeping Naked
As you go to sleep your body temperature begins to drop as it prepares itself for slumber. Keeping your room at a cool temperature (between 60-67 degrees) can help aid the process of cooling your body.
Sleeping naked not only increases the chances you’ll sleep comfortably and soundly, it also helps cool your body down by eliminating nightgowns and pajamas that may keep your body temperature.
Make Your Bed Comfortable
Most mattresses are not good to use for long years. If your mattress is out of date or uncomfortable, getting a new mattress can go a long way towards great sleep. There are mattresses/beds available to suit all types of sleep needs including adjustable stiffness, preferred sleep positions, disturbances from a tossing/turning partner, or even have covered if you have allergies to certain fabrics or dust mites.
Having an uncomfortable pillow or bedding can keep you from sleep as well. If you’re constantly readjusting your pillow before bedtime, it may be time to get a new one.
Paint Your Room With Sleep Friendly Colors
A study in Britain showed that the color of your bedroom can impact the amount of sleep you get. In a survey of over 2,000 British homes it was found that the colors blue, yellow, and green helped sleepers get the most hours of sleep with blue averaging 7 hours 52 minutes, yellow at 7 hours 40 minutes, and green at 7 hours 36 minutes.
These colors are often associated with calmness and relaxation and can help put your mind at ease as you are trying to rest.
What if Sleep Hygiene isn’t Working?
If you are practicing these better sleep techniques and still find yourself feeling tired, rundown, or excessively sleepy during the day, it could be a sign of a sleep disorder
If you believe you have a sleep disorder, talk with your primary care physician About your symptoms. Alert them to the sleep hygiene practices and techniques you have implemented. Your doctor can help determine if a sleep study is right for you.