The importance of sleep can be more understandable when a person spends a night without sleep. Sleep is as much important as our other daily routines like taking bath and eating. We spend one third of our lives sleeping but still we need our sleep to be refreshing and hygienic. A proper and good night sleep helps us in many ways. It maintains our body functioning, boost our immune system and repair any damaged happened during day time in our body. Sleep is important for both our physical and mental health. That is why sleeping is the best meditation and essential for our survival.
We all know lack of sleep have so many harmful effects on us. We take sleeping for granted and utilize our sleeping hours to fulfill social, academic and official demands. But insufficient sleep has a profound impact on our cognation. Sleep deprivation lead us toward memory loss, negative emotions, promote negative memories, negatively affect our thinking. Insufficient sleep also affects our physical health badly. It leads us toward diabetes, heart diseases, and weakens our immune system. So, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic and we should focus to maintain our sleep routines to stay healthy.
Sleep hygiene is a set of behavior, environmental conditions and sleep related factors that make our sleep good and healthy. It involves habits that improve the quality and quantity of our sleep. Good sleep hygiene is really important because it helps us to promote healthy sleep and daytime alertness. Through sleep hygiene tips we can fight with our sleep related problems and disorders such as, insomnia. There are some important tips that make our sleep hygienic and healthy.
Regular Bedtime and Wake-time
Go to bed at the same time every night. There is a system in our brain called “Circadian Rhythm” control our sleep/wake time. If we go to bed at the same time it remains stable and makes our quality of sleep better. If we stick to the routine to go to bed at the same time at night an alarm will be set in our brain. Every night at the same time our brain get signal to go to sleep and we feel sleepy due to Circadian Rhythm. It helps people to initiate sleep more quickly. This system is affected by exposure of light. We regulate our bedtime and wake-time by exposure of light. To regulate bedtime keep room dark at the same time to go to sleep and also make room light to get up in the morning.
Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine
People should avoid substance such as caffeine and nicotine before bed. Caffeine is commonly uses to combat sleepiness and to promote wakefulness. Caffeine act against the chemical that help to initiate sleep and make a person awake. That is why caffeine should not be taken close to bedtime. Experts claim that a person should not drink anything that has caffeine substance in it 6 hours before sleep. Caffeine makes our brain to stay awake and we have difficulties to initiate sleep. Some people claim that they can easily sleep after drinking tea. They can sleep but their sleep is not healthy and good. They feel headaches, dizziness and after hours of sleeping they still not feel refresh.
Exercise also helps to initiate sleep and improve quality of sleep. Only 10 minutes of walking and cycling affects our sleep quality. Exercise heat up our body and brain that helps us to initiate sleep more easily. Exercise in late afternoon and early evening will be more effective for good sleep.
Keep Your Room Cool, Dark and Quite
Make sure to keep you room cool, dark and quite at the time of sleep. Noise disturbed our sleep. Some people can easily sleep in loud noise but some people disturbed due to noise and light. It is suggest that try blackout blinds or wearing an eye mask or earplugs to avoid noise and light during sleep.
Keeping you room dark at the time of sleep is important because light decrease an important sleep initiating chemical in the brain. Melatonin is found in pineal gland, and play a major role in the body’s circadian rhythms. When light has direct exposure to retina of our eye, it passes through optic nerve, suprachiasmatic nerve and reaches to pineal gland and decrease melatonin. On the other hand, in darkness the level of melatonin increases and promotes sleep. An excessively warm room disturbs sleep, although low room temperature is helpful to initiate sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a room temperature of 60–67°F is ideal for healthy and refreshing sleep.
Avoid Digital Screen before Sleep
Avoid using all the electronics having screens before going to bed. These electronics include your laptop, computer, mobiles, television, e-readers and tablets. Stop using these screens one or two hours before going to bed. These screens emit blue light that disturb the production of melatonin, the hormone involves in sleep. This light tricks your brain to think that it is daytime again and you have problem to initiate sleep. That’s why looking up to these screens closely before going to bed is detrimental for our sleep.
Avoid Certain Food before Bed
Certain types of food also make you uncomfortable and disturb your sleep. When you are going to sleep avoid heavy and rich food. Fatty and fried food, spicy dishes, carbonated drinks and citrus fruit such as orange can trigger indigestion for many people. If people take these foods near to bedtime it can lead to acidity and painful heartburn that disrupt sleep. People should avoid these things before bedtime. Hunger also disturbs our sleep so light snacking is useful to kill the hunger before bed. Warm milk and similar drinks before bed seems to help many individuals sleep.
Dedicate Your Bed to Sleep Only
Use your bed only for sleep and intimacy but nothing else. Other activities on bed rather than sleeping will disrupt your sleep. If you use your bed as second lounge room and do activities such as watching television, using mobile phone, working on laptop, talking to friends, eating and even studying. Your mind will associate your bed with these activities and when you wanted to sleep on bed, it will be difficult for you to initiate sleep. It is best to avoid going to bed without feeling sleepy and lying awake in bed.
Improve Your Sleeping Environment
Improve the environment of room in which you are sleeping every night. Invest in a mattress that is comfortable enough, neither too hard nor too soft. If your bed is not comfortable it leads you toward back pain and disturbs your sleep.
Follow a Bed Time Routine
Each night follow the same set of activities at least 30 to 60 minutes before bed. Doing same activities before bed will train your brain psychologically and your brain will recognize that it is time to go to bed. For example: turning off all the lights, taking warm bath, lock the doors and reading a book every night will help your brain to recognize that it is sleep time. If a person use techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation before bed it also helps to reduce anxiety and you have a good sleep.
Read before Bed
If you are not able to sleep at night get up from your bed and start reading any book. Start reading anything good in a relatively dim light that helps you initiate sleep. If you want to read before sleep, make sure you read something calming and enjoyable. Avoid reading any violent and disturbing story or book before sleep it may negatively affect your sleep.
Avoid Negative Thoughts before Bed
If you have a poor night do not push yourself or try harder to fall sleep. Just get up from your bed, turn on lights and start going something else. You may read a book, start sketching or do something productive. It will help the individual who feels angry, frustrated, or tense about being unable to sleep. When you are on bed, you should clear your mind from negative thoughts worries and hassles. Tell yourself that you will address them tomorrow when you are awake. While on bed tell yourself positive thoughts and picture yourself in a favorite and peaceful place. Avoid thoughts as much as you can that make you upset.
Exposure to Natural Light
Exposure to natural light is important for individual who may not venture outside frequently. Walking in the sun during early waking hours will help to set your body clock that maintain the sleep-wake cycle. It will help you to initiate sleep quickly when you go to bed.
Day Time Napping
Do not sleep more than 30 to 60 minutes during day time. A little nap during day time will help to improve mood, alertness and performance. But spending more time on bed makes your nighttime sleep shallow and fragmented, which means that you sleep for hours but still does not feel fresh and attentive.
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