Is quality sleep hard to come by for you? Do you ever feel like you are dragging by 1:00 pm? Or, do you fall asleep easily and wake up in the middle of the night begging your mind to shut down and fall back to sleep? I hear ya sister and I’ve got some help for you today. Here are 8 secrets to a better night’s sleep and it starts with sleep hygiene.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
We all know that the recommended sleep a person needs is between 7-8 hours a night. The average American adult gets less than 7 hours of sleep.
Why can’t we sleep? I believe it is a result of poor sleep hygiene.
Sleep what?? Yep, there is such a thing as sleep hygiene.
According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep hygiene simply means making sure your bedroom and nighttime routines help to promote a good night’s rest.
Sleep hygiene is setting up your evening for the best opportunity to get a full night of quality sleep. You know, when you’re actually sleeping and not tossing and turning all night.
I don’t know about you, but counting sheep has never worked for me. Nothing is worse than being exhausted but lying there frustrated when you can’t get to sleep! It seems each time you look at the clock another half hour of sleep is lost. UGH!
Somehow we manage to drag ourselves out of bed, load up on caffeine and count down the hours until work is over. How many cups of coffee? We dare not say (no judgement here, promise).
But let’s dig into how we can change that and start giving ourselves a good chance at getting quality sleep.
What Are Some Examples of Good Sleep Hygiene Habits?
To help aide in a better night of rest, I’ve put together a list of good sleep hygiene practices.
1. Avoid Caffeine at least six hours before bedtime
It may seem like a long time but in reality, there is still about half of your mornings caffeine levels in your body even six hours later.
So if you typically go to be between 9:00-10:00pm, you’d want to stop any caffeine intake (including chocolate) at about 3:00pm in the afternoon.
Not only does caffeine interfere with you falling asleep at night, it can also prevent you from going back to sleep if you wake up during the night.
Be mindful of what time you are drinking caffeine throughout the day.
2. avoid alcohol consumption before bedtime
Like caffeine, alcohol can disrupt your sleep as well. However, unlike caffeine, the effects of alcohol do not last as long.
Our bodies metabolize alcohol much quicker, thereby lowering the “sleepy” feeling quicker.
Once alcohol is fully metabolized, our bodies are suddenly awake, rebounding from the depressant effects of that glass of wine from a few hours earlier.
If you do have an alcoholic beverage late at night close to bedtime, make sure you have 1 or 2 glasses of water after.
Yes, you will likely have to get up to go to the bathroom (also disrupting your sleep), but you will likely not feel as dehydrated had you not had the water.
3. avoid screen time before bed
Your body naturally produces a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin levels rise in the evening when it starts to get dark. Melatonin is a good thing when it comes to falling asleep.
However, the light from looking at your screen before bedtime can interfere with melatonin levels.
Basically, things like television, computers, cell phones and tablets can trick your body into thinking that it might not be nighttime. Then the tossing and turning cycle begins.
I will be the first to admit, I am so guilty of this. A lot of my blog work time is done after the kids are asleep and I am tucked into my bed. It’s quiet and I can think. But, I am not doing my sleep hygiene any good.
4. Brain dump/journal
So you don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, and you don’t do screens? But you still find yourself awake at night.
Let me suggest that before going to bed, you grab a paper and pen and brain dump. Brain dumping is simply getting all those things that are trapped in your head on paper.
All of your to-do’s, worries, things you want to tell people, or calls you need to make. Get them out of your brain.
Yup, don’t let all those things take up valuable real estate inside your mind. The focus is on sleep, not on what you have to get done or what is worrying you.
Brain dumping or journaling is an essential sleep hygiene habit and I can’t recommend it enough as part of your bedtime routine.
Another powerful way to let go of what is on your mind is through prayer. Giving your cares and burdens to God allows you to fall into a sweet slumber. The Bible says in Psalms 127 that He gives sleep to those He loves. Let God have what is keeping you up at night.
5. maintain consistent sleep and wake times
Waking up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time each night helps program your body to get the sleep that it needs.
Waking up at different times each day interferes with the time that you eventually fall asleep.
For example, if you get up at 5:30 am on Monday, you will probably fall asleep a lot faster that night. Likewise, if you sleep in until 9:00 am on Tuesday, chances are you will have a tough time getting to and staying asleep.
6. ensure adequate bedroom temperature
Hot bedrooms suck! Simply put, sleeping in a room that is too warm or poorly ventilated is lame. It’s miserable.
Quality sleep does not include being sticky and sweaty. And believe me, I know a thing or two about sleeping in the heat.
We have had a handful of occasions when our beloved AC goes out. In Summer. In Texas.
The experts will say that the best temperature for your room is about 67 degrees. We generally aim for 70 degrees in the most hottest time of summer. But we also have ceiling fans so we run those as well.
Whatever your comfort level is, set your thermostat. Just bear in mind that the reason you may not be sleeping well could possibly be that your room is too warm.
7. limit how long you nap during the day
Thinking of taking a long nap on Sunday afternoon? Think twice about how long you choose to sleep as it may impact your ability to fall asleep that night.
Limit naps to “cat naps” which are about 20 minutes. Anything more and you may feel groggy after and worse off than before you even napped.
8. take a relaxing bath using aromatherapy
A relaxing shower or bath can help release tension and soothe sore muscles. Add in lavender essential oil and you are on your way to dreamland.
Consider diffusing lavender essential oil or a calming blend of oils in your room about 15 minutes before you go to bed.
The air you breathe in will promote relaxation and help you drift off to sleep.