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Sleep Hygiene

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Sleep Hygiene is simply a set of practices intended to promote good health and better sleep.  So, unless you have a serious untreated sleep disorder, these tips can help you.

You’ve got rhythm...  Well, at least your body does.  Your body uses circadian rhythms (it’s own internal clock and maintenance schedule) to regulate your “alert” vs. “down for maintenance” modes.  Fix a bedtime and a wake-up time and try to stick to it.  This helps your body “know” when it is time to switch the daytime chemicals in your brain to the sleepytime ones and vice versa.

Work it out...  Get your exercise, but not right before bed.  Exercise is necessary to tire your body out and help promote a deep sleep, (especially if you have a mentally taxing job), but all those endorphins and adrenalin running through your system gets you alert and ready to go.  You’ll need at least 2 hours to let things calm down. 

Sleeping it off...  Alcohol is NOT a sleep aid.  True, alcohol can make you sleepy, but as your body begins to clear it out and your blood alcohol levels fall, it actually has a stimulant effect, waking you up prematurely.  Avoid alcoholic beverages 4-6 hours before that fixed bedtime we discussed above. 

Up in smoke...  Smoking doesn’t help either.  While a smoke may calm you down initially, it, too, actually has a stimulating effect on the system. 

Got a buzz on?...  Avoid caffeine for 4-6 hours before turning in, for best results.  Coffee, teas, power drinks and sodas are loaded, but don’t forget those hidden culprits like chocolate. 

Running on empty...  If you’re hungry before bed try a small glass of warm milk or a banana.  Both contain tryptophan, an amino acid that has been found to be helpful for inducing sleep.  Stay away from heavy, greasy, spicy, or sugary foods.

Gotta go!...  Limit your fluids for 2 hours before you hit the hay.  Nothing interrupts sleep quite like repeated trips to the bathroom.

Sleep like a log...  But if your mattress has the appearance of a log lying on it when nothing is there, it’s time for a new one.  When shopping for a mattress, remember Goldilocks—not too hard, not too soft.  You want one that is just right for you.

Stop it...  Watching television, solving calculus problems, fretting about work, or problem-solving for tomorrow’s meeting are generally not relaxing activities before bed.  If something is bothering you or you have a brilliant idea, write it down and forget it until tomorrow.