Sleep Hygiene (all ages)
Sleep hygiene is defined in the dictionary as habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis. The National Sleep Foundation encourages us to zone in on our own sleep hygiene routines in order to encourage good night time sleep quality and full daytime alertness. This is important for the kiddos who are having trouble concentrating in class or the adult who is having trouble getting through their day without that much needed cup of coffee or red bull around 2 pm. Making sure to get healthy and restful sleep is important for both physical and mental health, especially recovery. Recovery from exercise, stressors that pop up throughout the day, the energy needed to get through a regular day, and replenishing our energy stores so that we can hit it again the next day and not feel dead on our feet.
Tips to improve sleep hygiene:
The most important sleep hygiene practice is to spend an appropriate amount of time ASLEEP in bed, not too little or not too much. Different ages and stages of life need different amounts of sleep, so part of the hygiene routine is finding your sweet spot.
Best practices for implementing good sleep hygiene include:
- Limit the amount of time you nap during the day to 30 minutes, a short 20-30 minute nap can help improve mood, alertness and your performance
- Avoid stimulants (like caffeine and nicotine) close to bedtime. This goes the same for alcoholic drinks, moderation is key when trying to fall asleep.
- Begin an exercise routine. As little as 10 minutes a day of aerobic exercise (walking, biking, running) can make BIG improvements in sleep quality.
- Don’t eat heavy right before going to bed. Foods that are too rich or carry natural caffeine, are too spicy, or fatty/fried, can hinder the quality of your sleep because the body is more focused on digestion than restful sleep. These foods may also cause heartburn which makes restful sleep hard because of the discomfort you feel from it.
- Cut the screen time before bed. The light emitted from a television or a phone screen can keep our brains awake when we are trying to wind down. Best practice is to stop using screens 2 hours before bed. This winds down the brain and the body and promotes faster falling asleep than the person who watch tv in bed and lays awake for 3 hours wondering why they can’t sleep when they feel so tired.
Finding what bedtime routine works for you is the key to getting a restful night’s sleep and being more productive the next day. Finding what works for you from duration to order is something that you can practice and improve upon until you find what fits and works best for you. The better you sleep, the better you can perform in the world outside your covers.