Do you have bedtime habits that you do every night or almost every night to get ready for bed?
I know I have a variety of habits and some nights I’m better at putting them into practice than other nights. What are some of your habits you can think of? Mine include washing my face, brushing my teeth, taking my contacts out, and putting my cell phone on the charger and silencing it. I’ll talk more about electronics and how they can either enhance our sleep or take away from quality sleep.
So you’re asking yourself "What is sleep hygiene & why is it important???"
Sleep hygiene is the practices and habits that you implement nightly to have good sleep quality and to be alert the following day to be productive.
Getting quality sleep is important for our bodies, from the physical health standpoint and the mental health standpoint. All of us, from children to older adults, can benefit from practicing good sleep habits.
So how can you improve your sleep hygiene?
One of the most important practices that we can do is to spend a suitable amount of time asleep in bed, not too little or too much though. Our needs for sleep differ across ages and our daily lifestyle and health. Below are some great sleep hygiene practices that you can try tonight!
If you like to take daytime naps, limit them to 30 minutes, a short nap doesn’t make up for insufficient sleep from the previous night. However, a quick nap for 20-30 minutes can help improve your mood, alertness and your performance.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to your bedtime. When it comes to alcohol, moderation is important. Alcohol is known to help you fall asleep fast, but too much close to your bedtime can disturb your sleep in the second half of the night as your body begins the process of breaking down the alcohol.
Exercise is great addition to your day, and can really help you to have good quality sleep. Even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking, can really improve your nighttime sleep quality.
Try to stay away from foods that can be disruptive right before you go to bed. Such as, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, and carbonated drinks, all of these may trigger indigestion.
Make sure you expose yourself to natural light; many people don’t get outside enough throughout the day. Getting exposure to sunlight during the day helps to maintain our healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Create a consistent relaxing bedtime routine; having a routine will help your body recognize that it’s time for bed. This could include taking warm shower or bath, reading a book, or writing in a journal.
Make sure you have a pleasing sleep environment; your mattress and pillows should be comfortable and cozy. You should have your bedroom temperature pretty cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Many people say they enjoy falling asleep to the TV or from looking at social media on their phone; however, all this technology makes it difficult to fall asleep. It’s really important to turn the TV off and put your phone on silent when you get into bed. Some other helpful tips include: use blackout curtains, eye masks, earplugs, "white noise" machines, and a fan to make for a relaxing sleep environment.
My personal thoughts on how important sleep is to our minds and bodies.
I don’t need to talk statistics or quote research to stress the impact of poor sleep or insomnia on someone’s quality of life. I see it all the time with the patients I’ve worked with over the years, I hear it from family and friends, and of course I’ve experienced a poor nights sleep that has made the next day almost unbearable. Insomnia is not a feature of any particular disorder; it can exist independently or alongside with anxiety, depression, PTSD, among other diagnoses. If you’re struggling with it, it can feel like you will never escape insomnia. Your sleep becomes the enemy, and you try to balance the reprieve offered by sleeping aids with the potential side effects… Yet, relief seems out of reach.
What many of us don’t realize is that there are common behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that go along with chronic insomnia that we may be experiencing that can contribute heavily to the problem. How often do you “sleep in” on a weekend, or take a nap to try to catch up? We’ve also had those nights, where we can’t fall asleep; we lie there for hours, worried that if we get up we’ll start the cycle all over again? I know I’ve been there, have you? If these routines sound familiar, they may be at least part of the reason that your insomnia has stuck around.
What are signs of poor sleep hygiene?
Frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In addition, if you're taking too long to fall asleep, you should consider evaluating your sleep routine and revising your bedtime habits. Just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and night spent tossing and turning.
You have been diagnosed as having insomnia.
Signs Your Sleep Quality Needs to Improve
It takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep after getting into bed.
You have been diagnosed as having insomnia.
You regularly wake up more than once per night.
You find yourself staying awake for more than 20 minutes after waking up in the middle of the night.
You spend less than 85 percent of your time in bed asleep.
To learn more about how your sleep may be affecting symptoms of depression and/or anxiety you may be experiencing call 561-460-1885 to schedule an appointment.
Written by: Laine E. Davis, PsyD
Postdoctoral Psychology Resident