Sleep is the time when our bodies and minds rest, recharge, and get ready for a new day. Poor sleep can lead to irritability, trouble concentrating, and even accidents. It can also impact our relationships and overall enjoyment of life. But just like anything else, there's a proper way to do it. It's called "sleep hygiene," and it's all about creating the best conditions for a good night's sleep. Proper sleep helps our bodies repair and grow. It boosts our immune system and makes us better at fighting off illnesses. With that, here are some tips that can help you achieve and practice proper sleep hygiene.
Consistent Sleep Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Your body loves routines and responds well to consistency.
Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Before bedtime, do relaxing activities for about 30 minutes every night that signal to your body that it's time to sleep. This can include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing deep breathing exercises.
Make Your Sleep Space Comfortable: Your bedroom should be a sleep-friendly environment. Our brains are wired to know it’s time to sleep when it’s dark outside. Set up your bedroom area so that it’s dark, quiet, and cool. If you can’t darken your room, consider using a sleep mask.
Limit Exposure to Screens: The blue light from screens such as phones, tablets or TVs can interfere with your sleep. Try to turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime.
Be Mindful of What You Eat and Drink: Avoid caffeine, large meals, and especially heavy, spicy, or sugary foods close to bedtime. Limit your caffeine intake after 2pm.
Get Plenty of Exercise: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. Try and get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day.
Manage Stress: If you're feeling stressed or anxious, or just had an emotionally upsetting conversation, it can be tough to sleep. Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, to help calm your mind before you sleep.
Say No to Naps: While naps can be great for a quick energy boost, too much daytime napping can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you need a nap, keep it short (20-30 minutes).
Say Hi to the Sun: Our brains are wired to stay awake during daylight hours and naturally know we need to sleep at night. This is called the sleep-wake cycle. It’s important that you expose yourself to bright natural light during the day, and especially in the morning when you wake up.
Listen to Your Body: If you're not feeling sleepy, don't force yourself to go to bed. Wait until you feel tired. If you can't fall asleep within about 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
Remember, everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's essential to find the right sleep routine that suits you. If you're consistently having trouble with sleep, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor who can help you figure out the best approach for your specific needs. By following these tips and making sleep a priority, you can reap the countless benefits of a good night's rest.
Sanket Nayyar, MD, is accepting patients at White River Health Family & Specialty Care (Batesville: 870.262.1530) and at White River Family Care (Newport: 870.512.2500).