Do you lay awake at night waiting to fall asleep, with your body physically tired, but your mind zinging with thoughts? Or, do you fall asleep easily, but routinely wake up between 1-3am?
Does your alarm go off just as you finally settle into a deep sleep? Insomnia is frustrating! If you answered “yes” to the questions above, you know the negative impact it has on your health and mental focus.
Establishing good sleep habits is a lifestyle practice. Developing good sleep habits can help you improve your sleep so you can wake up feeling refreshed and put an end to insomnia.
Why You Need Good Sleep
Your body repairs itself physically and psychologically during sleep. Sleep is organized into 4 or 5 cycles that last 90 minutes. Throughout the night you cycle between sleep patterns that function to physically repair your body and psychologically restore your mind. When you first fall asleep your body spends the majority of the time in the physical repair stage and you dream very little, but as morning approaches your body shifts to spending more time in a dream state—the stage of sleep that promotes mental repair.
Your body can no longer repair itself if you suffer from chronically disrupted sleep. Poor sleep can worsen pain conditions, cause poor memory and concentration, mood changes and fatigue.
Practicing good sleep habits
Sleep hygiene refers to your sleep habits and environmental influences that promote sleep. If you are struggling with insomnia then you need to re-examine your bedtime habits. Restorative sleep is established through consistently maintaining good sleep habits.
- Establish a regular bedtime and be consistent: go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, weekdays and weekends too.
- Exercise regularly for at least 20mins/day, but make sure that you are not working out in the evenings close to your bedtime—this may over stimulate you.
- Nutrition: spicy, fatty and high carbohydrate foods may disrupt your sleep and should be avoided in the late evening, especially if you have acid reflux.
- Don’t eat close to going to bed. Dinner should at least 3hrs prior to going to bed.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine (remember, chocolate has caffeine), alcohol and sugars in the late evening. Alcohol may initially cause you to feel sleepy, but it will cause night waking. Caffeine should be discontinued 4-6hrs before going to sleep.
- Keep your room dark.
- Keep your room cool. Your body temperature decreases as you enter into sleep. Your bedroom temperature should be at 60-67 degrees. Taking a warm bath or shower before bed can help you to relax and sleep better.
- Keep your room quiet. However, if you’re a light sleeper you may find a noise machine helpful to block out environmental sounds.
- Your bedroom should be for sleep and sex only. Keep work and electronics (computers, tablets, phones etc.) out of your room. Your room is your sanctuary of peace.
- Avoid napping late in the day.
- Eliminate drinks 3-4 hours before bed if you routinely wake up to urinate.
- Keep your lovely animal friends out of your bedroom if they are disrupting your sleep. Make your kitty and dog cozy some place besides your room.