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Tips to Improve on Your “Sleep Hygiene”

Here are suggestions for how to get better, more restful sleep

Whether you’re a student or work full-time, it’s easy to let taking care of yourself slip on the list of priorities. You know you should be making smart food choices and getting some exercise several times a week. Sleep makes it much easier to tackle those tasks—and everything else!

How much you need varies according to you age, lifestyle, and overall level of health. In general, adults should get between 7 and 9 hours. That seems like a lot to some people, but don’t worry. We’ve got some basics to set you up for sleep success. It all begins with something you may have heard about: proper “sleep hygiene.”

This set of habits can lead to good quality of sleep during the night—and better alertness during the day. Good, healthy sleep benefits the mind as well as body. When you’re well-rested, you’re more prepared to tackle daily tasks and can be more productive.

It’s time to evaluate your sleep hygiene and figure out how you can adjust it to help you get better zzzs. Here are some do’s and don’ts:

Get into a bedtime routine

A nightly routine reminds your body that you’re getting ready to sleep.

  • Establish calm and quiet during the time before bed. Maybe take a shower or bath, meditate, read a few pages of a book, listen to soothing music, or have a cup of herbal tea.
  • Avoid stressful situations (like arguing), don’t take on important tasks (like paying bills or catching up on work), and leave intense conversations (like the “what-do-I-do-with-my-life” talk) for some time other than before bedtime.

Keep a regular schedule

It’s important to go to bed and get up around the same time each day. Unfortunately, that means no sleeping in until 10 a.m. on the weekends. But if you’re getting better quality sleep during the week, you won’t be so desperate to catch up and can get your weekend mornings back!

Prep your bedroom

Is your bedroom a sleeping oasis? It should be. Here’s how:

  • Make sure you find your bedding and mattress to be comfortable.
  • Maintain a cool, comfortable temperature for sleeping.
  • Make the room as dark as possible. Block out light with blackout shades or curtains, and consider wearing an eye mask.
  • Keep it quiet by wearing earplugs. Or try a “white-noise” machine or fan to block out noises.
  • Keep electronics (TVs, computers, and phones) out of the bedroom.
  • Make your room a “pet-free zone” at night if your pet regularly wakes you up. (Don’t worry—over time they’ll get used to it. And so will you!)

Support your sleep with exercise

Regular exercise—even just walking or biking for as little as 10 minutes a day—helps to promote sleep. Get it in early in the day if possible, and avoid strenuous exercise within a few hours of your bedtime—it can take your body several hours to wind down.

Avoid certain foods and beverages

Within a few hours of bedtime, stay away from alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine (in coffee and tea but also chocolate and some pain relievers). Also, say no to heavy, spicy, fatty, or fried foods and to carbonated drinks right before sleep. These can cause indigestion, which interferes with good rest.

Even if you’re practicing proper sleep hygiene, you might not sleep long or well enough. If you wake up frequently during the night, have trouble falling asleep, or are excessively sleepy during the day, call the doctor and schedule a sleep study. You might have a serious underlying issue, such as sleep apnea. But everyone should commit to healthy sleep hygiene. Think of it as making deposits into your reserves of energy and enthusiasm!

This article is part of the Branford Hall weekly blog. We offer an array of professional training programs at ten campuses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Reach out to us for more information today!