If you’re always having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up in the morning, poor sleep hygiene could be the culprit. Sleep hygiene is essentially a fancy way of saying sleep or bedtime habits, and having good sleep hygiene is basically the key to feeling well-rested.
Are you scrolling through your phone for an hour in bed before you actually even try to get some shut-eye? Do you drink excessively before bed? Is your bedtime all over the place?
If you answered “yes” to any (or all, we won’t judge) of these questions, these are some indicators that your bedtime routine could be a little bit “cleaner.”
We’re not just talking about turning the lights off (although you should definitely do that too). Your phone and computer are big culprits of emitting “blue light” which can mess up your sleep. Studies have shown that blue light affects your levels of melatonin, a hormone that controls sleep, in a negative way. If you can’t get yourself to give up your phone and/or Netflix before bed, at least put your device on night mode, which makes the screen a warmer tone, or wear blue light filtering glasses.
While many people believe a glass of wine before bed is helpful, this theory can backfire. Yes, alcohol can make you fall asleep faster, but research shows that your sleep quality will be way lower. Alcohol reduces the amount of REM sleep you get, and not to mention, will probably cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to pee. Caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea should also be avoided before bed, for obvious reasons. Trying to fall asleep with caffeine jitters and heart palpitations are not fun.
Yep, your parents were onto something giving you a steady bedtime as a kid. Going to bed at approximately the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning will make it a lot easier for you to fall asleep and to wake up. While it can be super tempting to sleep in, especially on the weekends, it will only make it harder for you to fall asleep that night. Having a consistent “sleep schedule” is the CDC’s number one tip for better sleep.
Finally, a fun one! Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can help switch your brain off and help you slowly get into sleep mode, so when you’re actually in bed, it will be easier to fall asleep. This can be whatever works for you. Taking a hot bath, journaling, meditating, practicing some breathing exercises, doing some gentle yoga, putting on an essential oil diffuser, having a cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea, you name it. Eventually, your brain will associate these things with bedtime, and that will help you get even sleepier.
So, as the days get shorter, make sure you’re putting focus on better sleep hygiene to keep your sleep cycles on track and make sure you’ve got the energy you need!
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