The team at Love Beauty Foods bring us their top tips for getting that elusive good night sleep.
Sleep Hygiene, more commonly known as healthy sleep habits (as defined by the National Sleep Foundation), are habits you self-develop over time to improve your night-time sleep quality; in turn, improving your daytime alertness. Obtaining a good night’s sleep is incredibly beneficial to both physical and mental health and will improve your productivity and overall quality of life.
This doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated and you may be surprised by the number of simple, natural, and effective approaches to breaking years or even decades of bad sleeping habits. Below are a few tips and tricks to help you achieve your daily dose of zzz’s:
REGULAR SLEEP PATTERNS & BEDTIME ROUTINES
Help your body to establish a healthy sleep routine by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day. A regular nightly routine helps the body recognise that it's bedtime, so it’s ready to send you off to lalaland the moment your head hits the pillow. Your routine could include taking a warm shower or bath, reading a book, or doing some light stretches.
Unfortunately, sleeping too long during the day will make it more difficult to nod off at night. If a nap is really necessary, try to limit the duration to half an hour, and make sure you’re up for at least 4 hours before going back to bed. Napping does not make up for inadequate nighttime sleep, however, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.
BED IS FOR SLEEP, NOT SCREENS
Computers, phones and TV can disrupt your sleep. Keep your bedroom screen-free and sacred so your mind can associate being in bed with sleeping and downtime, rather than watching TV or using your computer.
RELAX BEFORE BED
Find a relaxation technique that works for you. Try to establish a buffer zone before bedtime where you’re not trying to solve any problems or thinking about tomorrow, but just relaxing and preparing for bed. Also when possible, try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before attempting to sleep.
COMFORT IS KEY
Your room should be the right temperature, as well as quiet and dark. The bedroom should be cool, between 15-20 degrees, for optimal sleep. Bright light from lamps, a mobile phone or TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep, so turn those light off or adjust them to night-mode where possible. Consider using blackout curtains, sleep masks, earplugs, "white noise" machines, humidifiers, fans and anything that can make the bedroom more relaxing.
AVOID ALCOHOL, CAFFEINE AND CIGARETTES
These substances have far-reaching impacts on your physical and mental health, with disrupted sleep being just one. While alcohol might make you sleepy initially, it tends to disrupt your sleep cycle, leading to poorer quality sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can also prevent you from sleeping, so opt for a herbal tea instead.
TRY NOT TO CLOCK WATCH
If you can’t sleep, checking the time can heighten your anxiety about not sleeping. If possible, take the clock out of your room.
STEER CLEAR OF FOOD THAT CAN BE DISRUPTIVE RIGHT BEFORE SLEEP
Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can trigger indigestion for some people. When this occurs close to bedtime, it can lead to painful heartburn that disrupts sleep. Best to keep these types of foods to a few hours before you say goodnight.
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