Sleep Hygiene: The Key to Better Sleep

 

Sleep hygiene is all about having and maintaining healthy sleep habits, which your overall health depends on when you are stressed. “Disruption in sleep patterns can take a toll on the body and mind, placing people at a higher risk for anxiety and depression as well as negatively impacting the immune system,” says Ashley McGee, Vice President of Nursing at Mountainside. “Along with maintaining proper nutrition, sleep is one of the primary protective factors that are within a person’s power to control during a time when many may feel powerless against the spread of the coronavirus,” adds McGee.

Unfortunately, many people are not getting the amount of shuteye they need, which can take a toll on the body and lead to health issues like the ones outlined above. So, what can you do if you find yourself suffering from poor sleep hygiene? Here are some ideas:

Don’t Over-Nap 

When that afternoon lull hits you, a nap feels like exactly what you need to get re-energized. Power naps can help you achieve that goal, but letting your mid-day snooze go unchecked will wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. One study published by the National Library of Medicine concluded that naps could make you feel sleepier during the day. Naps can also confuse your biological clock, making you feel like you have more energy when you should be fast asleep. If you do start yawning before it is dark out, make sure to only doze off for 10-15 minutes so you can sleep soundly later.

Get Some Natural Sunlight Throughout the Day

Your body relies on sunlight. Even if you are staying inside your home more as a precaution during COVID-19, sitting near a window can work wonders for your sleep cycle. When this type of light interacts with your retina, you start to produce serotonin. Since this neurotransmitter is a natural mood stabilizer, creating more of it will help you become more relaxed, which is crucial for having an uninterrupted night’s rest. Light exposure also has a positive effect on your eyes by helping you produce more melatonin, an important sleep-promoting hormone. By doing something as simple as spending more time in a naturally-lit area, you will have more energy during the day and sleep better at night.

Avoid Over-Stimulation

Not only do many people spend their workday with their eyes glued to a computer monitor, but they also do this at night. Too much artificial light exposure, which comes from activities like watching TV or looking at your phone, can throw off your sleep cycle, as the blue light these devices emit suppresses your body’s production of melatonin. This disruption can also impact your REM or deep sleep, which can prevent you from having an uninterrupted snooze. While it may be unrealistic for you to completely abstain from electronic devices, turning them off earlier could help you getter a better night’s rest. For instance, it is common to go on social media at night to catch up on current events. However, trying to stay up to date (especially if you find yourself doomscrolling) can over-stimulate your mind instead of put it at ease. By using your device in moderation, you allow your mind to relax and unwind.

Try Natural Sleep Aids

Natural sleep aids have been proven to be effective in improving sleep hygiene. Research shows that drinking chamomile tea helps the body relax by assisting it in winding down, which will help you get some much-needed rest. For those who find aromatherapy soothing, lavender scents are a proven remedy for nocturnal restlessness. If external distractions are making you restless, try wearing earplugs or a sleep mask. These accessories can help you focus solely on getting a good night’s sleep and ignore anything that might prevent that.

Develop a Bedtime Ritual

A regular bedtime routine can significantly improve your quality of sleep. To get your mind and body ready, start transitioning yourself from doing stimulating activities to relaxing ones. Reading a book, meditating, or listening to a podcast can help you downshift into a more relaxed state of mind. If going from a fully illuminated room to complete darkness keeps you from falling into a deep slumber, try dimming the lights before turning them off completely. Having a consistent bedtime will also help regulate your sleep schedule and make you feel more prepared for whatever adventures the next day brings.

While sleeping is something everyone does daily, not everyone does it well. From watching TV right before bed to over-napping, there is a lot that can get in the way of you getting the necessary snooze-filled hours you need to be fully energized. But by trying our suggestions, you could be one step closer to enjoying an uninterrupted trip to dreamland.