What is Sleep Hygiene
Sleep Hygiene = Healthy Sleep Habits
Healthy sleep habits:
- Go to sleep around the same time each night
- Wake up around the same time each day
- Allow yourself to relax before jumping into bed
- Have a bed that is comfy and inviting
- Limit your bedroom to sleep (and sex)
- Do office work in any room other than your bedroom
- Exercise early in the day
- Do not use alcohol or caffeine late in the day
How you sleep is very dependent on your routine. You train yourself to go to bed or to wake up at a certain time. All the elements of your sleep routine effect how well you sleep.
Our sleep patterns are easily changed. Our emotional state and our physical environment impacts on our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Sleep is very sensitive to conditioning and so it is essential to break bad habits and establish new ones.
Learn Good Sleep Habits by following this simple advice:
During the Day
Exercise during the day; limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption; especially in the evening. Don’t Nap!
Your goal is to change your state of alertness. You need to calm your mind and body.
Imagine an airplane that is descending. As it comes in it changes altitude. You need to do the same thing; become less alert and more relaxed.
Stop doing things which are agitating, frustrating or exciting.
Low lights, lying down, and relaxing activities, such as reading, watching unstimulating television, or listening to soothing music are suggested for the hour before bed.
Only lie in your bed when you are going to go to sleep. In this way you are conditioning your mind and body to associate.
Which means that your bedroom should not be your office or your workroom.
Bedrooms should be dark (as in, low light), relatively cool (because lower body temperature helps sleep) and quiet. Your bedroom should be your retreat; a place to go when you want to let go of the day.
Bedroom = Relaxation
To create good sleep habits, it is best to be as consistent as possible. Try to go to sleep around the same time each night, and wake up around the same time each day.
How many hours should I sleep?
The easiest way to know is to get as much sleep as possible during the week. Then on the weekend, allow your self to sleep as late as you like. How many hours did you sleep? That is the optimal amount for your body. You can try this a few times in order to see how many hours you need to feel alert and refreshed.
When do I “take something” to fall asleep?
There are many sleep aids to consider. In the article entitled Understanding Sleep Problems I explained the use of medicines prescribed by doctors. However, some people prefer to use remedies, natural supplements and/or foods to improve sleep.
Exactly when you decide to use a sleep aid to go to sleep depends on you. However, it is a good idea to use something for two weeks, just to break your old bad habits. If you are sleeping well, follow the suggestions given earlier. Once you have good sleep hygiene you can slowly stop taking the sleep aid and continue to get a good night’s sleep.
What is a “Sleep Aid?”
The most old-fashioned tried and true sleep aid is milk. Milk, like whole grains, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, have tryptophan, which is an amino acid that occurs naturally in our body. It makes us sleepy.
Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in all of us, and it controls our circadian rhythm. Basically, it helps us sleep. You can buy Melatonin in health food stores or in your pharmacy without a prescription. Usually you take melatonin about two hours before going to sleep; and then you need to allow yourself to relax. Melatonin is also used to counteract the effects of jet-lag.
Over-the-counter sleep aids are also available at your pharmacy.
If you do fall asleep and then wake up, DO NOT KEEP LOOKING AT THE CLOCK.Why not?
Watching the clock becomes a visual cue that irritates you and keeps you awake.
Try deep breathing, relaxation and meditation type exercises.
If after 20 minutes you are still awake, get up, leave the bedroom and do another relaxing activity. Do something in a darkened room, while lying down. Computers are generally not recommended. Don’t start cleaning either. Your goal is to get sleepy and return to sleep.
Dr. Lipkins’ Sleep Tip Empty Your Backpack
Do this an hour before going to bed.
- Imagine that you want to clean out a pocketbook or backpack. Turn it upside down and shake.
- Let everything fall out, all the crumbs, pennies, everything.
- Now imagine doing the same thing to your mind. Let everything out.
- Make a list of the things in your mind that you want to take care of in the future. Write down everything that is important and discard the rest.
- Keep the list near your bed in case you remember something else. Just add it, and remind yourself that you no longer need to keep thinking about it because it is safely stored on your list.
- Now relax and allow your mind to think of enjoyable thing.