More than 30% of adults in the United States don’t get an adequate amount of sleep. This statistic is shocking, given that sleep plays a big role in our health and mental wellbeing.
Without sleep, we feel tired, absent, and less efficient. Healthy sleep habits, collectively known as sleep hygiene, can do wonders for our productivity, health, and happiness. If you’ve been struggling with poor sleep habits, such as insomnia or irregular sleep schedules, follow along! Below are ten tips on how to improve your sleep hygiene.
How To Improve Your Sleep Habits
Before we begin, we have some myth-busting to do. If anyone tells you there’s such a thing as “catching up on lost sleep”, don’t believe them! You cannot make up lost sleep. In fact, sleeping too much can even be harmful to your body!
Additionally, sleeping poorly at night and napping multiple times a day doesn’t help either. Sleep doesn’t add up. Think about it this way – every time you wake up, your sleep clock resets, so you should be aiming to sleep for 7 uninterrupted hours. Now, on to the tips!
1. Avoid Napping in the Afternoon
Listening to what your body wants is usually a great idea. However, when it comes to afternoon naps, this isn’t the case. Napping in the late afternoon can help you feel less groggy now, but it will prevent you from getting a good nights sleep later in the evening.
It’s best to hold out for a few hours until bedtime and hit the hay truly exhausted. That will make the quality of your sleep better and will prevent you from getting less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep.
2. Find the Ideal Temperature
Our body temperature drops when we fall asleep. In fact, lower temperatures help us fall asleep and allow our bodies to stay asleep. This is why it’s important to find the ideal temperature for your room at night. Colder temperatures will help in the cooling process and can help you fall asleep quicker and remain asleep through the night.
3. Don’t Excercise Before Bed
Exercise gets us all hot and sweaty. Like mentioned above, you don’t want to be warm, or increase your body temperature in any way, before going to bed. You’ll sleep better when you’re cooler, more relaxed, and less sweaty.
So, schedule your runs or gym sessions for the morning! This will not only help you build a routine but will also guarantee that you’ll be more tired at night and will fall asleep quickly.
4. Get a Good Mattress
There’s nothing worse than waking up to a horrible back-ache. A bad mattress can affect your mood, your posture, and your daily pain-levels. Investing in a mattress for your specific back needs is important, especially if you have not replaced or turned your mattress in years.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to shop for a mattress and which one might be right for you, check out this handy guide from The Mattress Nerd.
5. Build a Nighttime Routine
Our bodies are built to run on routines. Our circadian rhythm, when working properly, works around the clock to provide us with a cyclical routine. If you’re feeling like you never get tired when you want to go to bed, you tend to oversleep, or you can’t seem to stop napping during the day, your circadian rhythm might be slightly off-tune.
In order to balance out your sleep hygiene, it’s important to have a nighttime routine that your body can get used to. Try to start winding down one hour before bedtime. Turn off all your electronics and focus on relaxation. Brush your teeth and read a book in bed to wind down. Before you know it, you’ll be asleep.
Repeating this process every night will tune your body into falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day. It works like a charm!
6. Don’t Eat Large Dinners
One of the biggest mistakes people with poor sleep hygiene make is eating large, heavy meals at night. Our bodies immediately begin to process foods we eat, so eating a large meal will essentially ramp up bodily functions.
During sleep, bodily functions slow down significantly. But if you’ve already ramped them up, it’s hard to bring them back down to a comfortable sleeping level. Try switching out burgers and pizza for salad and lean meats.
7. Limit Coffee Consumption in the Evenings
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but try to limit coffee consumption after 2 pm. Even though you might not feel jittery at 9 pm from that 4 pm coffee, the caffeine is still coursing through your veins and keeping you up at night.
8. Ditch the Beer
Most people think alcohol makes you sleepy and tired. Some people drink alcohol to fall asleep. However, it doesn’t help you sleep at all! In fact, alcohol keeps us up at night and can have numerous negative consequences on our health and sleeping habits. If you’re interested, check this out.
9. Embrace the Darkness
Light, even artificial, keeps us awake. It’s part of how our bodies naturally determine when we should be awake and when we should sleep, like back in the day when people used to sleep at sundown and wake up at sunrise.
Keeping your room dark as you prepare to go to sleep can signal your body to start producing melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone.
10. Don’t Hang Out in Bed
This might be a hard one if you’re anything like most of us, who love cuddling up in bed to watch Netflix or just hang out. However, spending time in bed while awake can make it harder to go to sleep.
If you only use your bed to sleep, your body will automatically start getting tired the minute you hit the sheets. It knows what your bed is for, so it will pump melatonin when you tuck yourself in. It’s a clever trick for those who struggle with staying awake all night.
If you’ve struggled with poor sleep habits for a while, try incorporating some of these tips out! It’ll help you create a more regular and balanced nighttime routine that will eventually benefit every aspect of your life.