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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Ibelema, MD

Sleep Hygiene Tips

Sleep hygiene is the term for all the habits that influence your sleep. Good sleep hygiene involves consistency and an awareness of the factors that promote good sleep and those that prevent it.

Here are some practices you can adopt to sleep better consistently.

#1 - Prioritize Sleep

The first step to sleeping better is to make sleep a priority. It's easy to prioritize work, school and other obligations over sleep. Yet, getting enough sleep is incredibly important. Sleep impacts many aspects of our health and wellbeing. Improving sleep habits is one of the best things that you can do to improve your health.

#2 - Maintain A Set Sleep Schedule

Reflect on the amount of sleep that you need to feel rested. Adults need 7 to 9 hours on average, but individual needs vary. Aim to to sleep the same number of hours each night. Ideally you should maintain the same wake time and bedtime each night. Try sticking to this routine even on weekends or off days when possible. Maintaining this type of consistently supports your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

“Sleep is the time that the body and mind need to reset.” – Dr. Ibelema

#3 - Avoid Caffeine Before Bed

Caffeine fuels are modern adult lives. Yet we know that too much of a good thing can be problematic. Drinking too much caffeine --like coffee, tea and sodas can contribute to insomnia, and other sleep problems. You also want to be mindful of the timing of your coffee breaks. Try to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks at least four hours before bedtime.

#4 - Put Away Phones & Electronic Devices

We are primed to go to sleep when it's dark outside, and to be awake when the sun is out. Artificial light is confusing to the brain, because it disrupts our natural internal circadian clock.

Turning off the lights in your bedroom unfortunately enough. You also want to depart ways with your beloved cellphone, computer, and iPad. Avoid using electronics for at least one hour before bedtime.

#5 - Exercise

Research shows that exercise improves sleep patterns and sleep quality. Try to find a way to exercise each day, and choose an option that you would actually enjoy doing. Walking around your neighborhood, taking a dance or workout class, or joining a gym are all great options. It's best to exercise in the morning or at least in the first half of the day. Exercising too late in the day may disrupt your sleep.

#6 - Avoid Long Naps

If you do need a nap during the day, try to limit it to 30 minutes. Napping too much during the day can disrupt your nighttime sleep routine.

#7 - Create a Good Sleep Environment

It helps to keep your bedroom cool, and dark at bedtime. And you want to associate you bedroom and bed with sleep and rest only. You want to avoid doing work or performing mentally stimulating tasks in bed. If you must do work in your bedroom, try to make a home office corner and make some division between the workspace and the bed area. An object like a folding screen can help divide the space.

#8 - Develop A Good Bedtime Routine

A consistent nightly routine can help train your mind and body to fall asleep. This routine should include calming activities that will help prime your body for relaxation and sleep. Actions like meditating, reading a book, listening to calm music or taking a bath are all great options. You can also try dimming the the lights in your home, lighting candles, or using essential oils to help you relax before bedtime.

#9 - Manage Stress

A worried brain tends to have a hard time settling ,and "turning off" at night. If you find your yourself worrying, replaying the days' events or running through your to-do list, try to get your thoughts out before laying down. Try to write down your thoughts or jot down that do-do list before bedtime. Writing it down, and setting it to the side for the next day can allow the brain to temporarily let go of the "thing" and relax.

You can learn more about stress and anxiety management by checking out the link below.


Plan To Change Sleep Habits

All good things start with an intention that gives way to a plan. Plan to make 1-2 changes to your sleep habits at a time. Small healthy changes facilitate massive shifts in wellbeing over time. Be intentional, create a plan, and then just try it.

If you are experiencing chronic problems with your sleep, you should also talk to a doctor. Insomnia or sleep problems can be associated with a variety of health conditions including mental health conditions.


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