Great Sleep Habits to Keep
Sleep hygiene is the practice of following guidelines, usually simple and sensible ones, in an attempt to ensure more restful, effective sleep which can promote daytime alertness and help treat or avoid certain kinds of sleep disorders. Trouble sleeping and daytime sleepiness can be indications of poor sleep hygiene.
- Go to bed at the same time each day, this will allow your mind and body a chance to rest regular, and at a fixed scheduled time. Avoid tricking your body, the body is sensitive to light exposure and changes in times.
- Get regular exercise each day, preferably in the morning. There is good evidence that regular exercise (including meditation and yoga) improves restful sleep. This includes stretching and aerobic exercise.
- Get regular exposure to outdoor or bright lights during the day. This allows the mind and body to be aware of the day and night, as melatonin is produced during the night, when exposed to the dark.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable, as you would not be able to sleep well if you were sweating. It should not be too cold as well.
- Keep the bedroom quiet when asleep, as a noisy environment might keep you awake. The bed partner should preferably not be a snorer, as the spouse of a snorer has been shown to sleep an average of 2 hours less in terms of quantity when compared to a spouse whose bed partner does not snore.
- Keep the bedroom dark enough to facilitate sleep. Melatonin levels in the blood start to rise by about 8 to 10 pm and peaks by 1am to 2am. It helps to have a dark environment for sleeping.
- Use a relaxation exercise just before going to sleep, for example, muscle relaxation, imagery, massage, warm bath, etc. This might help promote deeper sleep.
- Keep your feet and hands warm. Wear warm socks and/or mittens or gloves to bed.
- Exercise just before going to bed, the heart rate and adrenaline levels in the blood needs some time to slow down. Avoid exercise 3 to 4 hours before bedtime.
- Engage in stimulating activity just before bed, such as playing a competitive game, watching an exciting program on television or movie, or having an important discussion with a loved one. One should also avoid surfing the internet just before sleeping.
- Have caffeine in the evening (coffee, many teas, chocolate, sodas, etc.), as these compounds contain stimulants that might keep you awake at night.
- Read or watch television in bed. The bed is only meant for the 2 S's – sleep and sex. Must not "confuse" the mind and body, the bed should not be for television.
- Go to bed too hungry or too full. You will not be able to sleep when you are hungry, as gastric pain might keep you awake, while a too full stomach will promote reflux disease and cause chest discomfort.
- Take daytime naps if you have any form of insomnia. As the guilt of sleep in the afternoon will surely keep you thinking and feeling guilty, such that you would surely not sleep at night.
- Command yourself to go to sleep. This only makes your mind and body more alert. Never command yourself to sleep.
My Personal Sleep Diary
A sleep diary is a record of an individual's sleeping and waking times with related information, usually over a period of several weeks. It is self-reported or can be recorded by a care-giver. As many people do not feel that their sleep patterns are regular, a sleep log/sleep diary would help show his or her personal sleep schedule. The sleep diary spans the entire day from the time the individual gets into bed to the awakening time. It includes the time taken to fall asleep, duration of sleep and any medications taken that particular night.