10 Healthy Sleep Tips!
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to the healthy sleep habits, behaviors, and environmental factors which promote quality sleep.
Whether it's reading a book before bed or engaging in mindful meditation, there are tons of helpful tools to ensure that you are able to wake up feeling well-rested morning after morning!
So why talk about sleep hygiene?
Sleep is just as important for our physical health as it is for improving our mental function. In fact, lack of sleep can cause imbalances in growth and stress hormones. For children and teenagers, in particular, it is important that these hormones are balanced to ensure proper growth and progression through each developmental stage.
Sleep also plays a vital role in the immune system's ability to fight disease and infection, regulating appetite, breathing rate, blood pressure, and even cardiovascular health!
Here are 10 great tips to help you get the rest you need to take on the day!
1. Set a consistent Sleep Schedule
Our bodies have an internal clock or circadian rhythm which helps to maintain the timing of when you fall asleep and wake up every day.
During this time, your brain produces a hormone called melatonin which helps to regulate your internal clock.
A consistent sleep schedule is important for maintaining your internal clock because it will lead to healthier body composition, and lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
So how much sleep do we need?
It is suggested that adults need between 7-8 hours.
2. Exercise regularly
Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can drastically improve sleep quality and decrease the amount of time that it takes you to fall asleep!
Exercise elevates the body's core temperature which signals your internal clock that it is time to be awake and builds up the body's pressure to sleep throughout the day. Additionally, exercising outside allows for light exposure which affects the timing of when melatonin is released.
Although physical activity in the daytime is great for improving sleep quality, it is important to avoid strenuous physical activity a few hours before bed to allow your body to have enough time to wind down.
Yoga can be a great form of light activity to help relax the mind and body before bed.
**Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you would like guidance with your exercise program.
3. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol can disrupt sleep by affecting breathing rate and the brain's ability to wake properly.
Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but the sleepy effect that it can have worn off quickly throughout the night as your body tries to remove the alcohol from your system.
It also has negative effects on rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is that dreaming stage of sleep and although it may not seem like a crucial stage in our overnight recovery, this is actually the sleep stage where learning and memories are being processed and stored in the brain.
4. Limit caffeine
I think most of us can agree that there is nothing better than a cup of coffee to help kick off our mornings.
Although caffeine may keep us energized throughout our busy workdays, the effects of caffeine can last 3-7 hours after consumption so the timing of caffeine consumption is an important factor to consider.
As a result, caffeine intake should be limited in the afternoon and evening.
Caffeine often causes feelings of insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, and an increased heart rate which can all affect your ability to fall asleep.
5. Keep naps short
Sometimes napping can give us just the boost that we need to get through the day!
What are the benefits of napping?
Improved memory and reaction time
Although napping has its benefits, napping at the wrong time or for too long can sometimes backfire and make it harder to fall asleep at night.
If you are going to nap, try to limit the nap to 30 minutes or less. This is because napping for longer periods of time will allow our brains to reach important deeper stages of sleep which will be disrupted when woken up.
You may have experienced this in the past if you have ever woken up from a nap feeling groggy and even more tired than you did before you fell asleep!
Additionally, it is important to avoid napping in the late afternoon as this can lead to insomnia later at night.
6. Maintain a healthy diet
Research shows that eating a diet high in sugar, processed carbohydrates, and saturated fat can disrupt your sleep.
With that being said, a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats provides the necessary vitamins and nutrients to promote sleep!
Sufficient sleep and proper nutrition go hand in hand in reducing the risk of obesity and controlling body composition so it is important to be conscious of what we are putting into our bodies and how these foods affect our overall quality of sleep and wellbeing.
7. Turn off all electronic devices before bed
Electronic devices such as phones, tablets, and computers emit blue light which disturbs the melatonin levels in the body which regulate our circadian rhythm.
This means that using devices before bed will make it harder to fall asleep and more difficult to wake up in the morning.
It is suggested that you should turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed and this habit should be incorporated into your nightly routine to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Notifications can also disturb certain stages of sleep which will affect the overall quality of your sleep. As a result, it may be beneficial to keep your devices stored in a different room at night to eliminate any distractions.
8. Use your bedroom for sleep
By limiting the time you spend in your bedroom to only sleeping, your brain can strengthen the association between bed and sleep, which will make it easier to fall asleep.
If you use your bedroom for other activities such as studying or working out, your brain begins to associate the environment with work, making it harder for your brain to wind down at the end of the day.
9. Get plenty of sunlight
As previously mentioned, it is important that you are exposed to sunlight enough throughout the day to help maintain your body's circadian rhythm.
Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D which is expressed in several areas of the brain involving sleep regulation. Since vitamin D is involved in the production of melatonin, sunlight is crucial for sleep hygiene!
Vitamin D is also important for your physical health as it plays an important role in building strong bones and muscles.
10. Manage stress before going to bed
How many times has your head hit the pillow and you immediately begin unpacking everything that happened in your day?
It can be hard to let go of certain stresses and worries in your everyday life, but there are a few ways that can help calm a racing mind before bed:
Journaling- Allow your thoughts to exit your mind by writing them down!
Meditation- Meditation can help calm the mind and body before bed.
Breathing exercises- Becoming aware of your breath can help to slow the heart rate and reduce anxiety prior to bedtime.
Looking for further advice about ways that physical activity can be incorporated into your daily routine to meet your sleep needs?