If you struggle with sleep issues, you may need to pay attention to your ‘sleep hygiene’. Here are a few simple ways to improve the quality of your sleep.
Wake up at the same time every morning
Even if you go to bed later than you planned, try to wake up at the same time every morning. Eventually your body will fall into a rhythm. Your sleep will get consolidated and you will be able to go to bed at the same time every night. This will help regulate your Circadian rhythm (day-night body clock). Having a set schedule every day including holidays and weekends helps to set this rhythm and improve sleep.
Go to bed only to sleep
When you are tired and ready to sleep, head to your bed. Lying awake in bed worrying and waiting to fall asleep can be frustrating. If you find yourself doing just that, get out of bed and rest somewhere else. Reading, eating or watching the TV in bed are not recommended. If you are unable to sleep try to read a book, listen to music or engage in other relaxing activities. Try to avoid bright lights, including those from screens. When you are ready to doze off, return to bed.
Make your bedroom comfortable
Cooler temperatures are better for sleep, set the thermostat between 60-75 Fahrenheit based on your comfort level. Darkness induces sleep, so consider blackout curtains, drawing the blinds or other ways to reduce light when you go to bed. Needless to say your bed and mattress being comfortable are important for a good night’s sleep. Reduce loud noise as much as possible, although white noise like nature and water sounds can be relaxing and helpful for sleep. Keep your televisions in other living spaces.
Get ready for bed
Bedtime routines and rituals are not just for babies. A relaxing bath, a good book and some gentle music will help you relax and fall asleep. Stay away from stressful activities up to 2 hours before bedtime including checking work emails, watching the news, having a difficult conversation or working out.
Physical exercise, even in moderate amounts improves sleep. Try to include some physical activity in your calendar. Be mindful of the timing and amount of exercise. Strenuous activity right before bed can increase stress hormone (cortisol) levels, which will get in the way of good sleep.
Dr Sayanti Bhattacharya