Sleep hygiene

Have you heard of sleep hygiene?

It’s a hot topic in health right now. There are countless threads on quora detailing the best practices in sleep hygiene.

In essence, it’s how to develop a routine that enable you to have a proper night’s sleep.

Lately I’ve been struggling with sleeping the full 8 hours that is touted as the ideal amount of sleep your brain needs to function properly. So, I’ve done my own research into sleep hygiene. It’s something I’ve been interested in for a while and used to be very on top of in my own life. But alas, when life gets hectic, our routines become compromised.

Yesterday morning when I awoke to sleep stats that read 4 hours 2 minutes, I was appalled.

Thus beginning my efforts to change the dynamic of my space in hopes that it would be more sleep friendly environment.

I started by cleaning my room, from top to bottom! That meant from the cobwebbed corners of my ceiling to the faint forgotten dust behind my bed.

Did you know that our walls can hold unpleasant toxins and odors?

I used a wet rag soaked in vinegar on a yard stick to reach the far up corners of my ceiling and rubbed all the way down to the dark crevasses in the four corners of my room.

I put my comforter and sheets in the wash and proceeded to wipe up any dust, and re-organize my space. I am always cleaning, simplifying, and throwing things away in my room because I am most productive in a space that is free of clutter and distractions. I also burned some sage and walked around my whole room, kindly asking that any energy that wasn’t conducive to relaxation or restfulness be banished out the slightly cracked window.

This past evening, I was determined to get a proper 8 hours of rest.

So, I put my charging station outside of my room, in the hallway. And even set my Fibit on my dresser so that I would feel pressure to get see positive feedback in my sleep stats the next morning. If you have a Fitbit Versa you can manually set sleep mode from your phone instead of wearing your watch while you sleep, which is what I did around 12PM.

I woke up this morning at exactly 10AM and felt SO well rested. Ergo, I’m a sleep hygiene expert now. Just kidding. But here are my tips!

Best Practices in Sleep Hygiene:

Use a humidifier – Especially in the winter when heat can dry out your sinuses. It also works well as white noise.

Make sure your room is a cool and dark – No lights, especially white light! Leave your phone and other devices charging AWAY from your bed. Use a fan, even in the winter. And get rid of any unnecessary heavy blankets.

Try earplugs – Great for anyone who is sensitive to noise, lives with roommates, or in an urban environment. Ear plugs can be a total game changer. You may not even realize your flatmate’s clinking together of pans in the morning is disrupting your sleep or that you wake up to the metro passing like clock work.

Go to bed at the same – Every night, get into a schedule of going to bed at the same time! I know this can be difficult, but try to stick to it on the weekdays.

Move in the morning – Don’t exercise too close to bedtime, this can disturb circadian rhythms. It’s great for sleep quality to move your body, but since it gives you a surge of energy, stick to a morning or afternoon workout routine. Early evening workouts shouldn’t be too disruptive either. I do know people who claim a good workout knocks them out before bed– so it really depends on the individual.

If you DO wake up in the middle of the night, try not to check your phone or any other white-light producing devices. Listen to a podcast. I recommend Rachel Brathen’s (aka @yoga_girl) From the Heart podcast. I listened to it the other day while resting and it was a beautiful way to shift into relaxation.

Try not to eat anything, and make a soothing blend of caffeine-free tea.

If you’ve been lying awake in bed for more than around 20 minutes, change your location. Take the pressure off your brain and body to fall asleep by doing something mindless.

Remember, one night of poor rest won’t throw off your whole week.

Take it in stride and don’t stress it.

There is always tomorrow.

Be well xx.

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