So, What is Sleep Hygiene anyway?
Sleep hygiene is just a term used to describe good sleep habits.
Statistics show that at least 40% of American adults are sleep deprived. Now that work days are extended and we carry our work in our pockets and look at it 24/7, sleep issues have gotten worse for a lot of people. It is super hard to shut work off these days. Would you agree?
Our day lives drift into our night time depriving us of good sleep!
Some in the medical community consider sleep as our most underrated health habit.
Many health care providers have said that getting enough sleep is just as important as good nutrition, physical activity and wearing your seat belt.
Some things that can be affected by lack of sleep: Mental clarity drops, making us less productive throughout the day. Making sound decisions at work becomes more difficult with lack of sleep.
How bout decreasing our energy level and making us more sedentary (not wanting to exercise), mood dip, reaching for unhealthy foods (comfort food), no one wants to cook when they’re tired. Overall a sense of lethargy or fatigue (loss of interest in activities or socializing).
Consider this: whoever said, “I’m tired and want to eat broccoli and run a marathon!” SAID NO ONE EVER!! When we are tired, we want comfort food and a couch. Being tired will make us choose unhealthy foods and avoid exercise.
Think about this:
If you have been trying to drop a few pounds and feel like you are eating healthy and exercising but the scale is not cooperating, check your quality of sleep. If you are lacking sleep, your metabolism will be flat and will store fat. It will be too tired to burn calories for you. Think of sleep as putting gas in the tank for the car to run.
Just like eating healthy or activity, even when we know what we “should be doing”, it’s doesn’t mean that it’s that simple.
Let’s unwrap it together:
You will continue to hear this from our workshops: SELF CARE: First, commit to making yourself a priority. You do not need to always be number one on the list, but definitely take a number!
Develop some evening rituals to help you relax before bedtime.
Here are a few ways to start some healthy habits for sleep hygiene:
Get up at the same time every day and go to bed around the same time each night. Keeping a schedule will help your body get into that rhythm and be ready for sleep at the same time each night.
How bout a warm bath or shower before bedtime. This can be very soothing and help you relax.
How bout a foot soak with lavender essential or and Epsom salt. This will help the body rest and decompress and signal the body that it is time for bed. SELF CARE!
Dinner should be at least three hours prior to bedtime. Have a light snack an hour before bedtime if dinner was several hours earlier. This will help you stay asleep and not wake up at 2AM.looking for snacks. Something light is good like a piece of fruit and a small protein of some sort. Greek yogurt or small amount of cottage cheese with fruit is a good snack. Apple with nut butter or how bout a string cheese or handful of nuts or seeds with a cup of decaf herbal tea. Earthy Andy’s Golden Latte here!
Make sure to cut off caffeine intake early in the afternoon because it can definitely keep you awake. Chocolate is definitely a stimulator too. Avoid it at night.
Regular meals/activities/taking meds/doing chores keeps your inner body clock running smoothly. This way the body knows the routine.
Do not eat, talk on phone, play cards or games on your phone in bed.
Avoid cigarettes and alcohol six hours prior to bedtime.
Keep a Gratitude Journal: Just for YOU! Write down three things that you are grateful for from this day. A smile from a stranger, hearing your child laugh, little things. This does not have to be huge but just yours and part of your day.
Avoid tough workouts before bedtime. This will only stimulate you making it harder to calm the body for immediate sleep.
How bout 5 minutes of meditation and deep breathing to calm your mind and body. There are a lot of aps that will play calming music, waterfalls, other nature sounds, etc. Look for an ap that suits you!
Make your bedroom a haven for sleep. Soft colors like sleepy blue, grey or lavender help transform your bedroom into a calming, inviting environment. Keep the lights low, temperature comfortable and have comfortable bedding to make an inviting area to rest.
Here’s a big one that some of us fight:
Avoid social media and technology 1-2 hours prior to bed. This can be hard but it so important to your sleep. Our phones and laptops emit blue light which can disrupt our sleep patterns.
Unplugging from social media and email early in the evening is also incredibly grounding and allows you to be present for yourself and loved ones.
Put your phone, laptops, etc. in another room if this does not cause you too much stress.
A lot of people keep their phones right beside them at night and each time they awake, they are looking at the phone, making it harder to go back to sleep.
Consider a digital alarm clock or putting your phone on night-mode.
If you find this too stressful to remove your phone from your room, put it on silent, dock it across the room. Try starting with this and then maybe choosing 1 or 2 nights/week to dock it in another room. Take micro steps to get used to the idea of healthy change. Remember taking small steps can only help make it a regular part of your lifestyle. We cannot fail if we take small steps.
We all have stress for sure so do not take it to bed with you. Try to solve problems prior to going to bed. Prior to bedtime, make lists of what you want to achieve tomorrow and be done with it. Stewing about things in bed will only have you tossing and turning or produce shallow sleep.
If you try some of these things and still struggle with sleep,
how bout considering a sleep diary to see how things are really going. Jot down each night for a few weeks what your bedtime routine is and how many hours you actually sleep. Make some adjustments from looking at your results.
Remember, self-care is our responsibility! Sleep is a big part of our lives and we need to take advantage of getting good quality sleep to be at our best.
My hope is that you take some of these ideas to improve your sleep hygiene and give your “self” care a boost and, as always, be well!
Sherry Jenko, NDTR, Group Lifestyle Balance Coach