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Poor sleep hygiene is the last thing any working professional wants, particularly since it’s detrimental to both health and productivity.
There is a laundry list of reasons why one may not be able to find enough sleep. And as a result, your ability to make quick and logical decisions can be hampered, as is your overall enthusiasm and energy to work. Needless to say, sleep deprivation is an undesirable outcome for everyone.
The longer you spend without properly sleeping, the more health and productivity issues you will face. And while this is common knowledge for some, there is a common belief that working through fatigue is the solution to it. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
What follows is a complete guide to sleep hygiene and how you can make your nightly rest much better. The correlation between sleep and productivity runs deep, after all, and using this guide can help you keep away fatigue successfully.
Simply put, sleep hygiene is a collection of healthy sleep habits. With healthy sleep habits, you may be able to fall asleep consistently and avoid any chances of suffering from sleep disorders in the future. In addition to improved physical health, your mental health will see a marked improvement as well.
By maintaining good sleep hygiene, you can enjoy the following benefits:
Good sleep hygiene isn’t limited to how you conduct yourself right before falling asleep. It encompasses all activities that you do before going to bed, including your food habits, nightly routine and more.
A regular sleep schedule is something that is highly personal and will vary from person to person. Some are night owls who find the nights to be more productive than the day. At the same time, others prefer to work during the early hours of the morning to remain effective and productive.
It depends on your schedule and preferences, and creating a sleep schedule around them can help you fall asleep.
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every day to wake up refreshed, but this doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. There are people who can be just as productive, if not more, with six hours of sleep. But on the flip side, there are others who can’t function well without sleeping for 10 hours at the very least.
No matter where you fall on this spectrum, what matters is that you remain consistent about the sleep duration.
Exercising regularly has a positive effect on your sleep, so long as you don’t exercise at least two hours before going to bed.
A workout routine can help stimulate your muscular system and nervous system, building up fatigue and helping you fall asleep quickly. Just 30 minutes of relaxation exercises every day will help you fall asleep much more quickly while benefiting your health.
The benefits of a workout routine are further increased if you perform it during the early hours of the morning and outdoors. Exposure to natural light and air can help regulate your sleep cycle quite effectively by resynching your circadian rhythms.
The blue light from electronic devices like your smartphone can have a negative impact on the melatonin levels in your body.
Melatonin is a chemical responsible for keeping a healthy sleep/wake cycle. If the melatonin levels in your body are reduced, falling asleep becomes a challenge. So, you inadvertently end up reducing melatonin levels and distracting yourself when using a smartphone in bed.
It can be a little difficult to manage for those who get important phone calls frequently. Even so, try to keep your cellular device a few feet from your bed for the duration of your restful sleep. Consider turning the Wi-Fi off for as long as you sleep to minimize the risk of notifications interrupting your slumber.
A relaxing bedtime routine can help you fall asleep quickly, reducing problems with sleep using few external implements. This routine can be varied and tailored to your preferences and so, it can include anything from chores to baths. You will want the brain to associate these activities with restful sleep so that you begin getting drowsy the moment these tasks are finished.
Consider incorporating calming activities as a part of your bedtime habits. The less they stimulate your brain, the better your sleep will be. Here are a few examples of activities that can be a part of your daily bedtime routine:
Maintaining a healthy diet can help mitigate some of the issues you face with sleep. After all, there are no downsides to a healthy diet, so why not try it anyways?
A healthy diet can have a positive impact on your sleep quality; all you need to do is add vegetables to your meals. Not only will you have a good supply of fiber in the diet, but you will also remain full of energy throughout the day.
Consider eliminating stimulating foods and drinks from your diet, particularly late in the day. Caffeine, alcohol, fatty meals, sugary foods, and carbs are all food items that should be avoided during the night.
Keep your room cool, dark, and free of noises during the night for a restful sleep environment. After all, if a bedroom isn’t relaxing, you won’t find enough good quality sleep in it.
Maintain a steady room temperature that feels the most comfortable to you. For most people, it can range from 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
You will also want to ensure that the mattress and pillows you’re using are comfortable enough. All too often, people ignore the importance of a comfortable mattress and end up with poor quality sleep because of it. The more comfortable you are, the better it is for your sleep and, by extension, your health.
For light sleepers, having earplugs and eye masks can help mitigate any interruptions from noises and bright light.
Your bed is meant for sleep only. Performing any other activity on it can be detrimental to your quality sleep since your brain forms a strong association between the bed and sleep.
Avoid reading, writing, working, using laptops or smartphones, watching TV, or any other activity in bed. The goal here is to help you fall asleep easier.
And while reading can help you relax before sleeping, it’s better to do so on the couch before moving to bed.
If you nap during the day for a long time, you will have trouble sleeping at night. Napping for longer than 30 minutes can result in a disrupted sleep cycle, making it exceedingly difficult to find a good night’s sleep.
That said, power naps are a good way to deal with your sleep-related issues. Pick a time in the afternoon to sleep for no longer than 30 minutes, and you will wake up feeling refreshed.
This makes full use of the light sleep stage (REM sleep) without falling into the deep sleep stage, allowing you to rest without fully committing to complete sleep.
If you go to sleep when not tired, you may begin tossing and turning in bed. This can weaken your brain’s association of sleep with the bed and can even make you more anxious about going to sleep.
So, avoid going to bed if you’re not feeling tired. And if you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of hitting the sack, simply leave the bed and come back when you do feel fatigued. Feel free to perform a relaxing activity in the meantime to unwind.
Anxiety can keep you from staying asleep at night due to the stress hormone cortisol. But it can be managed by performing certain activities like:
If you have exceedingly anxious thoughts, do not hesitate to contact a health professional right away. These issues should be addressed sooner rather than later, and having a medical practitioner diagnose them is for the better.
Maintaining a healthy sleep hygiene is an involved process, but doing your due diligence can help improve your ability to fall asleep. And the best part about healthy sleep hygiene practices is the number of ways it can help you solve issues related to insufficient sleep.
For working professionals, maintaining good sleep hygiene may seem like too tall of a task. But the important thing to remember here is that you don’t need to make sweeping changes to your lifestyle all at once.
Take it slow and easy until you’ve adjusted to one of the points listed above, and move forward one step at a time. And before long, your sleep issues will have been taken care of.