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Sleep hygiene is a term that speaks to practice of creating an established atmosphere in the bedroom and preparing the body to achieve the best night’s sleep. Sleep hygiene is imperative for everyone, no matter the age. A quality sleep hygiene routine aids with healthy sleep and daytime alertness and can help prevent the onset of various sleep problems and disorders. Here are a few tips that will help put you on a path to having great sleep hygiene:
Adjust Your Exposure to Light Before Bed
Limit your exposure to light 30 minutes to an hour prior to your bedtime. Try not to work on a computer or watch TV. It’s fine to read before bed but avoid doing so with a bright light. If you do happen to wake up in middle of the night, do not expose yourself to bright light. Also, using an eye mask during your night’s sleep is an inexpensive and effective way to resolve light problems.
A decrease in core body temperature is correlated with the onset of sleep. To try to optimize this process, adjust the temperature of your bedroom. A room that’s been cooled to approximately 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be an ideal temperature to help promote good sleep hygiene. Enjoying a warm bath right before bedtime also decreases core body temperature and enhances sleep.
While alcohol may cause rapid sleep induction, the body metabolizes alcohol very quickly. This speedy metabolic process can cause a person that uses alcohol as a sleep aid to suffer from withdrawal symptoms in the middle of the night; symptoms such as shallow sleep, nightmares or multiple awakenings.
Exercise should be completed at least four hours preceding bedtime, as the endorphins and adrenaline from exercising can keep a person awake. Also, exercise can increase core temperature, making more difficult to fall asleep. Research has shown that insomniacs tend to have a warmer core temperature before bed.
A recent study completed by Research Triangle International showed that sleep quality is altered by the characteristics of different sleep surfaces. If you wake up with low-back pain or shoulder pain, you may want to consider purchasing a new mattress. Make sure that your sleep surface is the right one for you.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, or you’re waking up during the night, consider changing your bedtime habits. Maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule during the week is the first step toward establishing good sleep hygiene. Start a sleep diary to track your progress. Take note of things such as what time you fell asleep, what time you awake, whether your sleep was interrupted and by what. Every effort to achieve your best night’s sleep is a step in the right direction.