If you wake up each morning not feeling rested, wake up in the middle of the night, or have trouble falling asleep, you may need to look at your sleep hygiene - which is made up of the rituals and behaviors you have surrounding bedtime. Your quality of sleep has a huge impact on your mental and physical health, so it’s important to make the time you spend sleeping count. Here are some tips for improving your sleep hygiene:
•Wind Down With a Routine - Try and only do relaxing activities close to bedtime to signal to your body that it’s almost time to sleep. A routine such as a warm shower or reading a book can help. Avoid emotionally intense conversations and media right before bed.
•Exercise for Better Sleep - Exercising during the day, even for 15 minutes, will help improve your quality of sleep. It’s usually best to avoid strenuous exercise within a couple hours of bedtime, but find what works for you.
•Light and Dark - Your sleep/wake cycle will be much stronger if you get adequate sunlight exposure during the day and keep your bedroom dark at night. This transition from light to dark is another cue to your body’s rhythms that it’s time to sleep.
•Avoid Disruptive Food and Drink - Fried, spicy, and tomato-based foods eaten shortly before bed can lead to heartburn that will disrupt sleep. Either avoid the foods or take preventative meds. Remember too that sleeping on your left side is a natural way to help combat heartburn.
•Limit Naps - Naps during the day can be helpful for a boost in alertness and productivity, but napping for more than 30 minutes can interfere with getting a good night’s rest later on.
•Beware of Uppers and Downers - Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol will all affect your sleep. Obviously caffeine and nicotine will make it harder to fall asleep. Alcohol will make you drowsy and more likely to fall asleep easier, but it doesn’t make for restful sleep as it interferes with achieving REM sleep.