Receiving a good night’s sleep doesn’t always come easy, especially when you consider the many factors that can play into sleep disturbance. This can be anything from stressful thoughts to noise distractions. To assist those with nighttime problems receive a more restful night’s sleep, Innovative Sleep Centers in Tumwater has organized a helpful list of tips for practicing good sleep hygiene.
For those unfamiliar with the term, sleep hygiene is used to describe good sleep habits. Considerable research has been dedicated to developing a set of guidelines to help improve individuals sleep patterns. A few of these tips are listed below and have extensive research backing them to prove that they can assist with long-term solutions for many people with frustrating sleep difficulties.
Limit Liquids, Meals and Caffeine in the Evening
One of the best ways to promote a good night’s rest is to avoid consuming too much liquid, heavy meals and caffeine later in the evening hours. Try to keep away from too much liquid consumption two hours before your bedtime. Maintaining consistent meal times, especially dinner, helps as well as eating meals that aren’t too heavy in the evening.
Caffeine is often a necessary aspect of a morning routine. However, caffeine can often have a long half-life in sensitive adults, creating effects that last long into the evening. The key to avoid lying awake at bedtime due to caffeine consumption is limiting your cup of joe to the morning hours and stopping entirely after 2:00 p.m. Caffeine is obviously found in coffee, but is also present in chocolate, tea, soda and OTC medicine. An herbal cup of tea can make for an ideal substitute later in the day to curb any cravings. Beware, even decaf coffee still contains traces of caffeine (the amount depends on the type of bean used), so depending on how sensitive you are, you may want to steer clear of it as well.
Schedule “Worry Time”
Although it may not be the most enjoyable task, try to set aside designated “worry time” in the evening. It’s easy to get into the habit of thinking worrisome thoughts when lying awake in bed. Setting aside a specific time, even if it’s just a few minutes to plan upcoming deadlines and activities that cause anxious or angry feelings, can help minimize those thoughts by bedtime. Lying awake in bed with a stressful mind is often the cause of more restless sleep patterns.
Avoid Smoking and Alcohol Before Bedtime
Smoking too close to bedtime can play into an uneasy night of sleep. Also, try to avoid smoking when waking up in the middle of the night as this can inadvertently condition more regular wakeups into the future.
For those that drink alcohol, it’s important to know the science behind it. After alcohol is consumed, it metabolizes. Being a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, the CNS will “rebound” and become more aroused. This causes a lighter sleep and more frequent wake ups throughout the night. Plan to enjoy a drink or two earlier in the evening so that most of the alcohol content will be metabolized by the time you go to bed.
“Cave-Like” Bedroom Environment
A good night’s sleep is heavily dependent on the environment of a bedroom. Making a bedroom as “cave-like” as possible can help promote a restful night of sleep. Temperatures in the room should be no higher than 75 degrees. Once the room is at a cool temperature, turn on a fan or white noise generator, put in earplugs or hang up heavy curtains to dull out surrounding noises. Curtains also help limit exterior light from streaming in as the sun rises.
Another way to create a quieter and more relaxing sleeping space is to turn cell phones to silent and flip them upside down to minimize light and turn off radios and TVs or set them to a sleep timer that will automatically shut them off once you fall asleep. Although many people enjoy sleeping with their beloved pets, if they become too bothersome in the night, consider removing them from the bedroom.
Exercising is a smart idea not only for physical and mental health, but to help you burn off excess energy and fall asleep quickly. Whether you exercise in the morning or afternoon, your body will thank you come bedtime. Although exercise is immensely important, avoid too strenuous of activities within the three hours before your normal bedtime so that it will not raise your body temperature and delay sleep.