Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness. Establishing a good sleep hygiene routine will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
These tips are not a substitute for actively treating your snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea. Utilizing some of them like slightly elevating your head by sleeping on two pillows or raising the headboard a few inches may in fact make your sleep retainer work better.
Sleeping with a snoring bed partner will likely keep you from resting well. Likewise worrying over finances, the mortgage, a pending layoff at work, or an ill child, partner or parent will disrupt your sleep no matter what you do to treat your snoring and or sleep apnea.
Motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy says…”You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”
These following 19-tips are some of the things that you can control. They might seem so simple that it would be obvious to many of you, but few people ever think that something simple will work to improve the quality of their sleep.
1. Sleeping Environment:
The first and most important step to getting a good night’s sleep is to make sure that your bedroom environment is ideal for sleeping. It should be a dark, cool space that is quiet. Remove any electronics such as TVs or computers from the space, since they promote mental stimulation. If you’re someone who needs noise to fall asleep, then look into white noise machines or turn on the radio at a low level to create a more soothing environment.
2. The Quality of Your Bed:
The quality of your bed can contribute to better sleep too. Everyone varies on what is most comfortable to him or her, so take some time and figure out what works best with your body.
- Do you need a firm or soft mattress?
- Do you need a memory foam mattress?
- Do you need multiple pillows or just one?
- Do you need therapeutic pillows?
3. Sleep Partners:
If you share your bed, then make sure it’s big enough to fit two people. It’s important to have your own space where you won’t be disrupted. If you have children or pets, set limits on how often they sleep with you — or insist on separate sleeping quarters.
4. Stick to a schedule:
Your body thrives on consistency and routine. When we’re stressed, we tend to go off of our routine; eat foods that are high in fat, starch and sugar, eat at irregular times and not sleep enough due to whatever is weighing on our mind. It is this inconsistency that is a factor in increasing your risk of sleep disorders and health issues. So, it is very important to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s rhythm and helps promote better sleep at night and better overall health.
5. Pre-Sleep Rituals:
You might even want to establish a pre-sleep ritual, such as a cup of warm milk, a warm bath or a few minutes of reading. All those activities can help you send signals to your body that it is time to go to bed.
6. Getting Back to Sleep:
It’s normal for a person to wake up one or two times a night for various reasons. If you find that you get up in the middle of night and cannot get back to sleep within 15-20 minutes, then move out of your bedroom and engage in another restful activity, such as reading or taking a bath. You should find that within 20 minutes you would be able to fall back asleep. If you remain in bed, “trying hard” to sleep, chances are you will become more stressed and less likely to fall asleep. Refrain from doing anything related to house or office work and, as tempting as it is, do not turn on the television.
7. Limit Food Intake:
Have you ever been kept up by heartburn or acid reflux? Consider for a moment what you ate and how close to your bedtime it was that you consumed it. What we eat during the day, and especially before we go to bed, greatly impacts how we sleep.
It’s important not to eat too large of a meal before you go to bed, so you don’t remain awake with that, “too stuffed” feeling. If you are starving and need to eat something before bed, then stick to foods that are high in tryptophan, such as seaweed, turkey and egg whites. Foods also high in amino acids such as melons, oranges or apples may help you to sleep, as well as a cup of warm milk.
8. Limit Beverages:
Make sure to adjust how many beverages you consume before bed, to limit the number of trips to the bathroom. Drinks with caffeine should be avoided before bedtime because their stimulating effects take hours to wear off. This will wreak havoc on the quality of your sleep. Alcohol is also another drink to be avoided near bedtime. It might make you feel sleepy at first, but once the alcohol levels in your blood start to fall it can act more like a stimulant. The recommendation is to avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks 4-6 hours before bedtime. And remember, chocolate has caffeine in it, so try and resist those temptations at night…. as best you can.
9. Naps can make you more tired:
Now, this may seem like a myth but it’s actually a fact! Think of it in terms of food, if you snack all day long then you’ll never be hungry for an actual meal. So, if you nap throughout the day, it is no wonder that you won’t be able to sleep at night. When the late afternoon hits, that’s when people feel the sleepiest and take a nap. In general, this isn’t a bad thing but you must limit it to a half an hour at most, so you don’t oversleep and stay up half the night.
10. Physical Activity:
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper sleep. Timing is important, though. If you exercise too close to bedtime, your adrenaline might be too high for you to fall asleep. If this seems to be an issue for you, try exercising earlier in the day. Vigorous exercise should be done in the morning or late afternoon. Relaxing exercise, like light yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
11. Get Outside:
Additionally, it is important to ensure you have adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside frequently. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
When you have too much to do and too much to think about, your sleep is likely to suffer. To help restore peace to your life, consider healthy ways to manage stress. Start with the basics:
12. Get organized:
This will help you reduce your stress as much as possible during the day.
13. Set Priorities:
Know what you need to tackle first, so you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed at the end of the day.
14. Delegate Tasks:
Know when you have simply taken on too much and it is essential to ask for help.
15. Take a Break:
Give yourself permission to take a moment to breathe and walk away from your stressors. It is recommended that every 20-40 minutes you stand up, stretch and walk away from your desk. Just taking these few minutes during the day will help soothe your mind and body.
16. Share a good laugh:
Laughter is the best way to relieve stress and tension. Whomever you talk to at night, make sure it is someone who lifts your spirits.
Keep a paper and pen by your bed to jot down anything that is on your mind. Writing out your worries helps stop them from swirling around in your head while you’re trying to sleep.
18. Relax before going to bed:
Get in the habit of practicing relaxation techniques before bed. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing and others may help relieve anxiety and reduce muscle tension.
19. Leave your worries behind:
Don’t take your worries to bed. Leave your worries about job, school, daily life, etc., behind when you go to bed. Some people find it useful to assign a “worry period” during the evening or late afternoon to deal with these issues.