Getting a good night’s sleep is key to having the quality of life you want; one that is productive because you feel great and are full of energy. There are many reasons to get a good night’s sleep. Not only do the ZZZs refresh your body and your mind, they can help you lose weight, and reduce depression and anxiety.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy sleeping habits are known as “sleep hygiene.” You practice good oral hygiene and body hygiene, so why not practice good sleep hygiene, as well? If you want to get a good night’s sleep every night, it may be time to change things up.
Set a sleep schedule
A sleep schedule is when you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This includes the weekends. Practicing good sleep hygiene means no sleeping in until noon on Saturdays. By setting a schedule, you get your body acclimated to a routine that helps you not only fall asleep, but also helps you sleep through the night.
Create bedtime rituals
Add to your sleep schedule a bedtime routine that helps you relax such as a warm bath, the chapter of your favorite book, or maybe even some calm music. Step away from anything that causes you anxiety, stress or gets you wound-up before you go to bed. That includes electronic devices such as a laptop, a cellular phone or an iPad.
Watch those catnaps
Sometimes catching a few winks in the middle of the day can mess up your nighttime routine. Limit power naps to approximately 10-30 minutes a day. If you’re still struggling with insomnia, cut out catnaps altogether.
If you find yourself getting drowsy during the day, get up and move around. Take a walk. Stretch. Touch your toes. Daily exercise actually helps you fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Even if you cannot get yourself in a full daily exercise routine, light exercise still helps. You will be surprised how just that little bit of activity will invigorate you and improve your sleep.
Monitor eating and drinking habits
Eating close to your normal bedtime can affect sleep patterns. Eat your large meal earlier in the day – at least two to three hours before bedtime – so that your body can digest the meal and reduce acid reflux before going to sleep. Consuming caffeinated foods and beverages, or drinking alcohol or smoking too much before bedtime can also cause your natural body rhythms to become misaligned causing you to lose sleep.
Have a comfortable environment
The layout and design of your bedroom can have an effect on the quality of your sleep. The room should be cool, somewhere around 70 degrees. It should be free of any extraneous light, such as light from outside. It should also be noise-free. While you may not be able to stop your partner from snoring or talking in their sleep, you can use ear plugs or a white noise device to help you fall asleep. Check to make sure your mattress is less than 10 years old so that are resting on something that is comfortable and supportive. You will also want to invest in a good, quality pillow.
Of course, we know that this is a lot easier said than done. The Mayo Clinic recommends starting with the basics, “such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Give yourself permission to take a break when you need one.” Other ways to find “life balance” and de-stress is learning how to say no, spending time with family and friends, and minimizing negative influences.
If you still find that sleeping through the night and getting the much needed rest you need is eluding you, call your physician. There may be other underlying issues such as sleep apnea or reflux that are interfering. A qualified mental health professional can teach you relaxation techniques, as well as work through any mental health concerns you may be experiencing.