Are you feeling exhausted and physically drained after a long day? Do nights leave you tossing and turning in bed, unable to get enough sleep? Is it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep? If the answer is yes, then keep reading.
Quality sleep is more important than diet and exercise combined!!
When it comes to our overall health and well-being, getting the right amount of restful sleep is essential. However, did you know there’s a specific practice called ‘sleep hygiene’ that can help us achieve better quality sleep? While the concept may be new to some people, understanding what sleep hygiene is and how it works could make a huge difference in your daily life.
So what exactly is it, how do I start practicing it, and why should I even care? In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at what exactly constitutes good sleep hygiene practices and why these habits are important for everyone to develop.
But first…..a little education on sleep.
WHY WE NEED TO SLEEP WELL?
Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for overall well-being. Sleep is not just essential for feeling rested, but it is also necessary for brain performance, emotional regulation, stress management, and proper digestion. Additionally, good sleep habits can contribute to a longer and healthier life.
Furthermore, healthy sleep patterns play an important role in maintaining a strong immune system. According to The National Institute for Health, those who do not get regular quality sleep are more prone to many diseases and disorders from heart disease, stroke, obesity, and dementia.
How much sleep do we need?
According to the Center for Disease Control, they recommend the following:
**Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 total hours per day, including naps
**Infants (4-12 months): 12-16 hours total per day, including naps
**Toddlers (1-3 years): 11-14 total hours per day, including naps
**Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 total hours per day, including naps
**Ages 6-12: 9-12 hours per night
**Teenagers (13-18 years): 8-10 hours per night
**Adults (18-65 years): 7-8 hours per night
OUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM.
Circadian rhythm is the natural 24-hour cycle of physical, mental, and behavioral changes within our bodies that are primarily influenced by light and dark.
The circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock that governs various bodily functions, such as sleep, alertness, and hunger.
Understanding this rhythm is essential to maintaining good health and productivity. By following a natural sleep-wake cycle and maintaining consistent eating patterns, one can align their activities with their circadian rhythm to optimize their well-being.
These rhythms impact animals, plants, and microbes, and are extensively studied in the field of chronobiology.
An example of a circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake cycle, which is regulated by light.
MYTHS ABOUT SLEEP. (google it yourself)
Your body gets used to lack of sleep. WRONG!
Napping makes up for the lack of sleep. WRONG!
Snoring is harmless. WRONG!!
It’s okay to hit the snooze button. WRONG!
Sleep & Healing
During sleep, our bodies undergo vital biological processes. For instance, the brain both consolidates newly acquired information and clears out harmful waste. Nerve cells reorganize and communicate with one another, which is necessary for maintaining healthy brain function. Additionally, sleep is a time when the body can repair cells, replenish energy, and release essential hormones and proteins. It’s clear that these processes are crucial to our overall well-being, as without them, our bodies would not be able to function properly.
Did you know that the amount and quality of sleep you get can affect your immune system? It’s true. Sufficient, high-quality sleep is crucial to maintaining a well-balanced immune defense. This boosts your innate and adaptive immunity, helps your body respond better to vaccines, and reduces the severity of allergic reactions.
Now….what we can do.
The key to achieving a truly restful night’s sleep is through adopting healthy sleep hygiene practices. This involves taking a holistic approach that accounts for both our daily routine, habits, and sleeping environment.
Our habits and routines can significantly influence the way we sleep at night. By adopting positive bedtime practices, we can help reduce the likelihood of disrupted sleep patterns and maintain consistent sleep quality.
Here are some examples of habits and routines you can adopt in your day for a better quality of life.
Improve your sleep quality with a consistent evening routine.
Sleep training for babies is a powerful tool for parents. Anyone who has embarked upon this journey understands the importance of establishing an evening routine. A good sleep-training program helps the baby develop healthy sleep habits and allows parents to get the rest they need to be focused the next day. By following a consistent routine, babies learn to self-soothe and fall asleep faster, while parents can relax knowing their little ones are getting enough sleep. And just like baby humans, adult humans benefit from an established bedtime regimen too.
Establishing a regular evening routine can make a significant difference in your sleep hygiene. The key to success is consistency. Dedicate 30-60 minutes before bedtime to follow the same activities every night to prepare your body and mind for sleep.
By repeating the same routine every night in the same environment, your brain will learn to associate those activities with sleep. Effective habits to incorporate into your routine include meditation, journaling, reading, EFT Tapping, taking a bath or shower, sex, washing your face, and brushing your teeth.
It’s important to understand that changes won’t happen overnight, and don’t expect immediate results or the best night’s sleep after a single day of following an evening routine. Give your body and mind time to adjust and stick with it for optimal results.
Unplug from electronics.
Studies have shown that using electronics before bedtime can negatively impact our sleep. This includes our beloved Kindle we love to read from. The apps and games we use on these devices stimulate our brain, and the light emitted by them also affects our circadian rhythm as well as contributes to both screen headaches and even migraine headaches. This habit is especially harmful and stimulating to children. It’s important to limit electronic use in general, but especially before bedtime to ensure quality sleep. Falling asleep to the TV is a HUGE NO.
Schedule – fixed wake time & sleep time.
Research has shown that maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can have numerous positive effects on your sleep quality. This involves going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
Not only does having a consistent sleep schedule give us a sense of control over our sleeping patterns, but it can also train our brain to fall asleep faster because it recognizes when it’s time to sleep.
Despite being commonly associated with older individuals, having a consistent sleep schedule is actually a habit demonstrated by many successful individuals throughout history and into the present day.
So, adopt a consistent sleep schedule to improve your sleep, mental well-being and potentially increase productivity and success in your daily life.
Be Mindful of your diet.
What we eat and drink has a significant effect on the quality of our sleep. Caffeine, sugar (including all sugar substitutes), nicotine, and alcohol can all keep us awake at night and disrupt our sleep. It is advised to stop caffeine and sugar intake 6-8 hours before bedtime. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol may help you fall asleep but it doesn’t help you stay asleep nor is its quality sleep.
Experts agree that eating your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime is advised. This helps to avoid issues with digestion, acid reflux, and sleeplessness.
When our body is busy multitasking by digesting food during sleep, it struggles to focus on other important functions mentioned previously, leading to poor sleep quality. Additionally, acidic and high-fat foods can negatively impact our sleep quality even when ingested hours before bedtime.
Decongestants like Sudafed, antidepressants such as Prozac, stimulants prescribed for ADHD, and beta-blockers used to treat heart conditions are some of the types of medications that have a large impact on our ability to sleep soundly. Even when your body becomes “used to the side effects”, it only learns to tolerate the subtle abuse until it no longer can.
It’s important to discuss any potential sleep disruptions with your physician. They may be able to adjust your medication or suggest alternative treatments that won’t interfere with your sleep.
And for the love of God, do not add another medication to your diet that can “help you sleep”. There are many holistic approaches to take long before resorting to ingesting toxic pills that only cover up symptoms of a more underlying issue.
Napping isn’t just for kindergartners and our grandparents. However, timing is the key to ensuring a successful nap. The ideal duration of a nap for an adult is 20-30 minutes. Power napping for this short period can offer several benefits, including alertness, enhanced mood, and performance. Napping for longer periods can disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you feeling groggy.
It is suggested to avoid napping late in the day. When you nap, your body naturally prepares for rest. Napping too late in the day can disrupt your circadian rhythm and leave you feeling awake at bedtime. This disturbs your sleeping pattern and can lead to bland productivity the next day.
Master your stress for better sleep. Master your sleep for less stress.
Stress is a common issue that can affect the quality of our sleep. According to heart.org, chronic stress not only has physical effects on the body such as headaches, stomach problems, aching muscles and low energy, it also leads to irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and waking up in the middle of the night with anguish.
Stress and lack of sleep are intertwined and both are related to high blood pressure which leads to heart attack and stroke.
Fortunately, there are ways to handle it effectively, allowing our brains to relax and let go.
If you frequently experience stress, it’s crucial to address it. Breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, and exercise are all proven methods that can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
Don’t let stress ruin your sleep. Take control of your stress and get the restful sleep your body needs.
Make your environment pleasant.
Creating a pleasant environment is vital for our overall well-being, and our bedroom is our safe haven. It’s essential to prioritize a 30-60 minute sleep routine in our bedroom and bathroom. To make the most of this space, use it solely for sleep and intimate activities with your partner (if applicable). Avoid displaying photos of family members in the bedroom and instead, keep only those of yourself and your significant other or other things that emulate a calming effect focused on you.
You can also enhance the environment by using essential oils, such as lavender, or other blends that help you relax and sleep better. Some enjoy using a calming pillow spray. Additionally, soft lighting can help regulate your circadian rhythm, while minimal noise and lower temperatures create a more calming atmosphere.
Overall, focusing on creating a peaceful and welcoming bedroom environment can significantly improve your sleep quality and overall wellness.
Clear your conscious.
If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep because you’re constantly thinking about past mistakes, it may be time to clear your conscious. Brain dumping and meditation techniques can be effective, but if they’re not enough, it could be worth seeing a therapist to work through deeper issues and achieve the healing you need. Don’t let sleepless nights continue to impact your well-being – take action and prioritize your mental health.
Your Work/Life Balance.
Did you know that having a poor work-life balance doesn’t just ensure that you’ll be sleep deprived but can also lead to serious health problems later on in life? It’s important to note that individuals who work 55 hours or more per week have a 1.3 times higher risk of stroke than those who work during standard hours. And that’s not all. Poor work-life balance can also increase the risk of coronary heart disease, as well as mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
If you feel like you’re sacrificing your personal life for work, take a moment to consider the harmful effects this could have on your sleep, health, and overall wellbeing. At the end of the day, while working hard may bring in more money or impress your boss, it’s only taking away precious time from what truly matters in life. This is why it’s important to prioritize maintaining a healthy work-life balance in order to avoid these risks and protect both your mental and physical health.
So please, don’t sacrifice your well-being for the sake of work. The time you can spend with loved ones and indulging in your hobbies matters just as much, if not more, in the long run. So put yourself first and make sure to prioritize a healthy balance between work and life.
What if you toss and turn?
If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, don’t stay in bed trying to force sleep. After 20 minutes of lying awake, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity in your room.
Activities like meditation, journaling or brain dumping, reading a book, and EFT tapping have been shown to be effective for improving sleep. Once you feel relaxed, try getting back into bed and falling asleep again.
Remember, studies have shown that staying in bed and struggling to fall asleep can actually make it more difficult to do so. Follow these simple steps and enjoy a peaceful night’s rest.
Repeat as needed.
Advice on Sleep aids.
While prescriptions and over-the-counter sleep aids like melatonin or THC/CBD gummies can be helpful for the occasional sleepless night, they should not be a part of your daily sleep routine. Relying on sleep aids creates a false sense of “good sleep” and only masks deeper issues. Instead of using medication to cover up poor sleep habits, it’s more beneficial to address the underlying problem. By using sleep aids more frequently, you are only developing another bad habit on top of many others. It’s recommended to limit sleep aid use to a few times a year for optimal effect.
Different for all.
Achieving good quality sleep is paramount for everyone’s optimal health and well-being, but the approach to achieving it may differ from person to person. While the process is personal, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You don’t have to adopt every sleep hygiene practice out there, but it’s important to strike the right balance. By prioritizing healthy habits, you can ensure you get the rest that your body and mind need.
Changing old habits and forming new ones takes time and persistence. But don’t get discouraged! By taking baby steps toward your goals, you’re making progress. Give yourself a challenge of 30 days to establish a new habit and see what positive changes may come. What is the worst that can happen? Stick to it and stay committed. You got this.
Whether it’s setting up a comfortable sleeping environment, practicing relaxation techniques, or avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime, it’s crucial to establish a healthy sleep hygiene routine that works for you. By making a few small adjustments, you could be well on your way to a better night’s sleep.
Although it might feel like an uphill battle to adopt and maintain healthy sleep habits, the effort is worth it. With these strategies in your arsenal, quality sleep can be yours every night. Give yourself a break; if you don’t see immediate results, don’t get discouraged. Keep at it and trust that your body will adjust in time. Most importantly, listen to what your body tells you and make sure to keep tabs on how you’re feeling and adjust as needed.
Remember, taking care of your body doesn’t need to be arduous or unenjoyable. Use this chance to incorporate some self-love by listening to soft music, taking a hot bath, or reading a book before bed – treat yourself.
Finally, it’s important that you take decisive action with healthy sleep techniques to improve not just the quality of rest but your life as well.
“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” — Ernest Hemingway
Jennifer is a passionate personal development coach who is dedicated to helping single moms unlock the intricacies of co-parenting and find their purpose in life. As a mom herself, she understands the challenges that one can face and uses her knowledge to help guide them toward a more fulfilling existence. Her work has been featured by national outlets and is the author of a bestselling book ‘I am Amazing: from Invisible to Invincible’. If you’re looking for an inspirational and empowering way to advance your personal growth, be sure to check out her growing eBook library here. Jen’s Digital Library
I am Jen,
As a dedicated life coach specializing in co-parenting, divorce, and single motherhood, I bring a unique blend of professional expertise and personal experience to my coaching practice. I am deeply committed to helping women not only survive divorce but also thrive as they transition into their roles as single mothers. I provide tailored coaching to assist my clients in developing effective co-parenting strategies, fostering healthy communication, and creating nurturing environments for their children.
I am also the author of the best-selling book “I am Amazing: From Invisible to Invincible”. My self-help memoir offers hope and inspiration for anyone who has felt overwhelmed by life and their struggles with mental health. With raw honesty and vulnerability, I provide an intimate look at my journey from victim to victorious.