WHY WE SLEEP & SLEEP HYGEINE
An invitation to peacefully drift off into a night of restful slumber.
Sleep helps you live longer.
It enhances your memory and makes you more creative.
It makes you look more attractive.
It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings.
It protects you from cancer and dementia.
It wards off colds and the flu.
It lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke, not to mention diabetes.
You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious.
Are you interested?
Mathew Walker PhD (2017)
- from his book ‘Why We Sleep’
Twelve Tips for Healthy Sleep
1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. As creatures of habit, people have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Sleeping later on weekends won’t fully make up for a lack of sleep during the week and will make it harder to wake up early on Monday morning. Set an alarm time for bedtime. Often, we set an alarm for when it’s time to wake up but failing to do so for when it’s time to go to sleep. If there is one piece of advice you remember and take from these twelve tips, this should be it.
2. Exercise is great, but not too late in the day. Try to exercise at least thirty minutes on most days but not later than two to three hours before your bedtime.
3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Coffee, colas, certain teas, and chocolate contain the stimulant caffeine, and its effects can take as long as eight hours to wear off fully. Therefore, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night. Nicotine is also a stimulant, often causing smokers to sleep only very lightly. In addition, smokers often wake up too early in the morning because of nicotine withdrawal.
4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. Having a nightcap or alcoholic beverage before sleep may contribute to impairment of breathing at night. You also tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of the alcohol have worn off.
5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. A light snack is okay, but a large meal can cause indigestion, which interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids at night can cause frequent awakenings to urinate.
6. If possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep. Some commonly prescribed heart, blood pressure or asthma medications, as well as over-the-counter and herbal remedies for coughs, colds, or allergies, can disrupt sleep patterns. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see whether any drugs you’re taking might be contributing to your insomnia and ask whether they may be taken at other times during the day or early in the evening.
7. Don’t take naps after 3pm. Naps can help make up for lost sleep, but late in the afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
8. Relax before bed. Don’t overschedule your day so that no time is left for unwinding. A relaxing activity such as reading or listening to music should be part of your bedtime ritual.
9. Take a hot bath before bed. The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath may help you feel sleepy, and the bath can help you relax and slow down so you’re more ready to sleep.
10. Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget-free bedroom. Get rid of anything in your bedroom that might distract you from sleep, such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or warm temperatures. You sleep better if the temperature in the room is kept on the cool side. A TV, cell phone, or computer in the bedroom can be a distraction and deprive you of needed sleep. Having a comfortable mattress and pillow can help promote a good night’s sleep. Individuals who have insomnia often watch the clock. Turn the clock’s face out of view so you don’t worry about the time while trying to fall asleep.
11. Have the right sun exposure. Daylight is the key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least thirty minutes each day. If possible, wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning. Sleep experts recommend that, if you have problems falling asleep, you should get an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and turn down the lights before bedtime.
12. Don’t lie in bed awake. If you find yourself still awake after staying in bed for more than twenty minutes or if you are starting to feel anxious or worried, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.
NIH Medline Plus, Bethesda, MD: National Library of Medicine (US) 2012