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  • Deanne Pandey

How to build your sleep hygiene

We have often heard discussions on sleep quality but do you know what sleep hygiene is? Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe healthy sleep habits or behaviors you can practice that may help improve your ability to fall asleep and remain asleep through the night. Establishing and practicing good sleep hygiene throughout the day impacts both the quality and quantity of sleep you get each night. It also plays a significant role in your physical and mental health. It’s not uncommon to have ups and downs in your sleep hygiene. But as long as you’re following healthy habits and getting quality sleep, the occasional late night or interrupted sleep pattern is normal. That said, it becomes a concern when poor sleep impacts your daily routine and overall health.

In healthy adults, short-term consequences of sleep disruption include increased stress, reduced quality of life, emotional distress, mood disorders, and cognitive, memory, and performance deficits. When sleep disruption becomes a long-term problem, healthy adults could face an increase in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia, weight-related issues, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and gastrointestinal disorders, among others.

Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, are linked to sleep disturbances. Sleep disturbances can happen as a result of mental health problems. So, it comes as no surprise that the quality and amount of sleep is being impacted by stress. And the problem goes both ways—reports show an increase in stress when quality and length of sleep decreases in addition to higher incidences of lying awake at night due to stress.

Because of the adverse physical and mental health consequences associated with disrupted sleep, it’s important to address any underlying health issues that could be causing sleep disturbances amd learn how to develop a sleep hygiene protocol. The path to better sleep starts with small changes to lifestyle habits. Establishing routines, getting regular exercise, creating a healthy sleep environment, and changing dietary habits, can positively impact the quality of your sleep.

Here are some tips to help you craft the perfect sleep hygiene routine-

  1. Consistent sleep schedule-The amount of shut-eye you get each night also contributes to a consistent sleep schedule. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night, with older adults over 60 needing between 7 and 9 hours each night. If possible, try to limit or avoid daytime naps if you are experiencing trouble falling asleep.

  2. Take some time to yourself before hitting the bed-Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, meditating, practicing restorative yoga, stretching, listening to soothing music, or journaling, activities that help calm your body and mind allow you to transition from wakefulness to sleep.

  3. Your Environment plays a big role- Aim to turn off all electronics including phones, TV, tablets, and laptops at least 60 minutes before bed. Turn off or dim all lights in your room, and check that the temperature is optimal.

  4. Workout timings-Engaging in regular physical activity can improve sleep quantity and quality. And if you are an evening exerciser, there’s no need to shift your activity to the morning hours. However, save the hardcore workouts for earlier in the day and stick to moderate-intensity activities like yoga, walking, and low-impact swimming before bed. 

  5. Food habits before bed- Optimal sleep begins with a stomach that is not too full or too empty. Ideally, avoid large meals before bed, especially ones that are high in fat since they have been associated with sleep disorders. If you regularly drink caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or soda, aim to finish them earlier in the day rather than during the evening hours. Caffeine consumed six hours before bedtime can disrupt sleep.

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