How to Get Better Sleep

Why Is Sleep Important?

Sleep plays an integral role in both your physical and mental health. Physically, sleep is a time when the body repairs and rebuilds itself. Sleep helps to maintain balanced hormones, lacking in sleep results in increased ghrelin (the hormone that promotes hunger) and decreased leptin (the hormone that promotes fullness). Sleep also plays a crucial role in the strength of the immune system, lacking in sleep weakens the body’s ability to fight off illness. Mentally, sleep is essential for the proper functioning of the brain. Lack of sleep can result in difficulty with focus, problem-solving, and decision making. Running on low sleep can also lead to increased irritability and depression while ensuring adequate sleep can increase productivity and elevate mood. Which makes getting sufficient sleep essential to maintaining a healthy mental state. The quality of sleep ones has a direct impact on your physical and psychological health.

What is Sleep Hygeine?

Sleep hygiene is a set of practices that positively affect the quality and duration of sleep. Many medications are prescribed to treat sleep disorders, but often these are short term solutions. If used long term they can lead to adverse side effects, one of the primary concerns being dependency. There is evidence that practicing good sleep hygiene has positive effects long term for insomnia and other sleep-related problems. Below are examples of good sleep hygiene practices, start by incorporating one to two at a time and then slowly add in more when comfortable.

Create a Peaceful Atmosphere

  • Create a dark or dimly lit atmosphere in preparation for bedtime.

  • Keep this dark atmosphere throughout the night; eye masks are a great tool if there is light in your room or you live in a very light place.

  • Turn off all electronics at least one hour before bedtime, giving your mind time to wind down from the electronic stimulation.

  • Clear your mind before bed; journaling is a great practice to get the thoughts out of mind and on to paper.

  • Turn down the temperature, between 60 degrees and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is most optimal for sleep.

Lifestyle Practices

  • Avoid taking naps throughout the day, especially after 3 pm. If you must nap, try to keep it under 30 minutes and at least 4 hours away from bedtime.

  • Steer clear of caffeine or any stimulants after lunch.

  • The human body loves routine, so aim to wake up and fall asleep around the same time each day. The body will pick up this pattern and begin to adapt on its own.

  • Exercise, especially strenuous exercise, is best kept to earlier in the day.

Healthy Choices

  • Avoid alcohol at least 6 hours before bedtime.

  • Avoid going to bed hungry, yet avoid large meals before bed. A small snack (protein and carbohydrate combination) is excellent for stabilizing the blood sugar.

  • Snack Ideas:

  • Banana and Peanut butter

  • Cheese and crackers

  • Hummus and crackers

  • Rice and beans

Relax the Body

  • Warm baths are an excellent relaxation tool, try adding in some Epson salt or essential oils to increase the relaxation effects.

  • Aromatherapy is a powerful tool to help induce relaxation to the mind and body. Essential oils associated with relaxation are lavender, vanilla, sandalwood, jasmine, and rose. These can are used through a diffuser or directly applying 1-2 drops to wrists and bottoms of the feet.

  • Meditation, a simple 5 minutes of deep breathing before bed, can calm the nervous system and help prepare the body for sleep.

  • Incorporating some light yoga, stretching or yoga Nidra before bed can help

Citations:

Sleep Hygiene. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/cci/mental health professionals/sleep/sleep - information sheets/sleep information sheet - 04 - sleep hygiene.pdf

What is Sleep Hygiene? (2020, May 13). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-hygiene

Raphael, K. (n.d.). Sleep Hygiene. Sleep Hygiene. San Carlos, Ca: Dr Kizzy Raphael.

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