Ultimate Guide on Sleep Hygiene to Help You Sleep Better

Sleep Hygiene
Credits: Aweisenfels via Wikimedia.

In our hectic, stressful schedule very often we find ourselves low on energy and constantly faced with health issues. Besides other reasons not sleeping enough is a major cause for such problems. Neither we’re able to find adequate sleep during the night nor do we feel fresh in the morning. The day would be heavy on our head, making us drowsy throughout the day and deterring our concentration. If that is the case with you too then I believe you need to learn a little about sleep hygiene.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene refers to a set of practices that are essential in order to have a sound, full night sleep and a full alertness during the day.

Why is Sleep Hygiene important?

Appropriate sleep hygiene is essential for everyone, whether a child or an adult. Sleep hygiene when practiced properly promotes sound sleep and better alertness during the day. It prevents a lot of sleep-related disorders. Moreover, we need a good sleep for the body to repair and replenish itself from the entire day’s work. Lack of sleep leads to a lot of health problems. Besides a person would fall terribly ill and may even die due to a few days lack of sleep.

What Comprises of Sleep Hygiene?

I. Maintain a sleep schedule

In order to achieve the maximum benefits of one must take 6-8 hours of sleep each night. It’s advisable to practice a strict schedule for sleep. It may seem difficult at first but once your body clock has registered it, the sleep would come naturally to you.

  1. Go to bed at the same time every day.
  2. Wake up at same time every day. Use alarm if needed.
  3. Strictly avoid napping during the day.

II. Sleeping habits

It’s mandatory to practice healthy habits at your bed time. Many late night activities could prove to be hindrance in your sleep. Some habits to help you sleep better are:

  1. Bed should be used only for sleeping and sex. Never use bed for eating, watching TV or playing. Bed should be associated with sleep, not anything else.
  2. Go to bed only when you want to sleep. Our body tends to condition itself according to our habits. If your body realizes that you’re using bed for more than sleeping, it will never be able to differentiate whether you’re on the bed for sleep or some other activity, thus it would be hard to get some sleep.
  3. If unable to sleep, get out of bed. Never stay on the bed for more than 15 minutes at max without sleep.
  4. Some light activity promotes sleep. Find your triggers. Go back to bed when feeling sleepy again.
  5. Restrict amount of time spent on bed to 6-8 hours. Do not go to bed apart from the sleeping hours.

III. Additional helps

  1. Sleep comes easily when the body temperature falls from relatively warmer temperature. Thus, you may try warm bath before sleep. Also, a glass of warm milk before bed may facilitate sleep.
  2. Limit Vigorous exercises to morning or at least 4 hours before sleeping time. Try light and relaxing exercises like yoga before sleep.
  3. Keep room dark and at stable temperature, not too old and not too warm, during the nights.
  4. Also, maintain natural sunlight exposure during the day, especially for the kids and old people who can’t go out on their own. Alternating light and dark exposure (day-night cycle) helps maintain the sleep-wake cycle.
  5. It’s advisable to make use of some breathing exercises like pranayama before bed. It facilitates sound sleep.
  6. Take advantage of Relaxation techniques before sleep.

IV. What to avoid

Many habits act as sleep killer and must be avoided at all costs. Here are a few bad habits to avoid before sleep:

  1. Coffee or Tea should be avoided 4-6 hours before bedtime
  2. Alcohol disrupts deep sleep and dream state
  3. Smoking at bedtime or upon night awakenings
  4. Heavy bedtime or midnight meal. (Light snack helps inducing sleep).
  5. Mental stimulation (thought provoking discussions, movies)
  6. Avoid watching TV in the bed
  7. Avoid use of gadgets like laptop and mobile on bed

If you have a trick of you own to induce sleep, do let us know.