By Jacqueline Samaroo
Having trouble falling asleep? Staying asleep? Getting sufficient sleep?
We all experience problems sleeping from time to time. It becomes a real concern, however, when rest issues are prolonged and begin to negatively affect other areas of your life.
So, what can you do to get more and better slumber? The answer is in your hygiene.
Your sleep hygiene is made up of the things you do and habits you have formed that affect both nighttime rest and daytime alertness. It includes your night routine before bed, as well as whatever you do during the day to either promote or prevent snooze later. Even your morning routine can affect how well you catch z’s each night.
Ten Tips for Re-Setting Your Sleep Schedule
- Slowly adjust your bedtime. If lying down 2 hours earlier each night is your goal, try just 15 minutes earlier for a few days. Keep adding 15-minute increments until you reach your target.
- Skip the daytime nap. Napping may keep you awake at night because you simply aren’t tired. Plan to do some other, engaging activity during the time you would normally be napping.
- Keep your nights dark. Dim the lights as evening approaches and keep the bedroom dark throughout the night. Dark curtains help you get better shut-eye by blocking out light that streams in from outside.
- Keep your mornings bright. Our bodies are programmed to react to dark and light. Help yourself get fully awake in the morning by opening the curtains and letting the sunlight wash over you as you go about your morning routine.
- Avoid electronics at night. Electronic screens give off blue light that can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm. Spend the last hour before slumber reading a (not-too-thrilling) book, instead.
- Don’t eat close to bedtime. Have dinner a few hours before you turn in. It gives your body time to digest your food and lowers the risk of heartburn.
- And avoid caffeine after midday. Caffeine is a stimulant. Limiting it to before midday ensures it is out of your system by bedtime.
- Exercise but not too close to lights out. Exercise does make you tired but that is only after awhile. Initially, it makes you more alert and can interfere with your rest if done too close to slumbertime.
- Develop a bedtime routine. A warm bath, soothing music, herbal tea, light reading, and meditation are all helpful activities to add to your night routine. Find a combination that works for you and begin it in your final hour or so.
- Be consistent and stick with it. Developing any habit takes practice. Your body will fall into the habit of going to sleep and waking up at a certain time if you maintain a predictable pattern.
Talk to your doctor if you have tried the steps outlined above but are still having sleep issues. Chronic (long-lasting) problems might mean you have a sleep disorder. Your doctor might choose to place you on a melatonin regimen or prescribe some other form of treatment.