In the middle of this long winter when it’s not quite time for a holiday break, turn to these tips to help improve the precious time you get to sleep. The quality of sleep can best be measured by how energized you feel the next morning. Getting more sleep doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better sleep. On March 12th, 2017, we spring ahead an hour which ultimately leaves us less one hour. Still in the winter haze and awaiting the much need spring break, let’s look at ways you can reset your internal clock for a healthy sleeping pattern. We in the profession call this “Sleep Hygiene.”
Here are a few ways in which one can establish proper sleep hygiene:
Sleep Tip #1: No Screens at Least an Hour Before Bedtime
Did you know that TV’s, tablets, and phones emit a blue light? This blue light has been shown to disrupt certain neuropathways in the brain which interfere with your brain’s ability to recognize when it’s sleepy. Turning off and eliminating screen time an hour before bed gives your brain the chance to recognize when it naturally gets tired. Instead of watching TV or playing on your phone, try reading or doing an indoor hobby. Also, for those who keep their phones at their bedside, do NOT check your phone in the middle of the night. This greatly disrupts your sleep cycle, is straining on the eyes and impedes your ability to fall back asleep. Commit to not looking at your phone an hour before bedtime and again not until the time you wake up in the morning.
Sleep Tip #2: Stop Eating 2 Hours Before Bedtime
Being satiated but not stuffed, your body is able to properly digest before going to bed. When you eat too close to bedtime, your stomach carries some of its digestion into your sleep routine. Instead of winding down to relax, eating before bedtime instigates digestion and disables your body’s ability to relax. Not only does this disrupt your sleep cycle, but also contributes to weight gain. This is due to the body not having enough time to fully digest, leaving excess food in your stomach that your body will store as fat. By eating enough at dinnertime, and not snacking into the evening, your body is able to digest the food before it begins to shut down for bedtime. When you allow yourself time to digest before bedtime, you sleep better and wake up with more energy.
Sleep Tip #3: Do Something Quiet and Relaxing
In the hour before bedtime, with the screens already put to rest, do something quiet or relaxing. For some adults who are parents, this time before bed is the only time during the day you have to yourself, so spend it doing something that restores your mental and physical well-being. Perhaps take a bath or indulge in your favorite magazine. Enjoy an art project or bake something sweet.
Sleep Tip #4: Have a Sleep Routine
Using the above tips for preparing for a good night’s sleep, think about when you would like to practice this bedtime routine. If you want to sleep at 11 pm, turn off electronics no later than 10 pm and finish dinner before 9 pm. If you are someone who likes to or wants to start waking up early, then I suggest aiming to go to sleep around 9:30/10pm. This would mean no screens after 8:30/9pm and dinner is finished before 7:30/8pm. The hour before bedtime is best spent reading, taking a bath and preparing yourself for bed. Parents can create a similar routine for kids and have it start earlier. Consistency is key for routines and holds true for an effective sleep routine. Consistency and routine always your body to properly regulate itself to have regular, good quality sleeps.
Sleep is important for many reasons, so considering tips for proper sleep hygiene is a good way to get started. Try setting up a sleep routine and incorporate more quiet activities in the evening. Commit to turning off electronics and enjoying some personal time. Many people I speak with who introduce a sleep routine into their lives find that turning off electronics and reading or taking a bath sends them into a deep long sleep short thereafter. If you’d like to help increase your sleep hygiene and establish a bedtime routine that fits your lifestyle, connect with me via social media or book an appointment online.
~ Christine from Parallel Wellness