Last week, we talked about why sleep is so important for your mental wellbeing. We linked bad sleep to mood problems and a higher likelihood of mental illness. We hit on all of the important things your brain does during sleep. The whole goal was to motivate all of us to get the seven+ hours we need each night.
For some people, the biggest hurdle is actually getting into bed on time. For others, it’s harder. Maybe you toss and turn for hours before you finally drift off or you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. Sound familiar? If so, we’d like to introduce you to a concept called sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene focuses on best practices that make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. That means it’s basically a toolbox you can pull from to improve the quality of your sleep. To get you started, here are a few things you can do to get better sleep.
Tap into your circadian rhythm
This is your body’s internal clock. It runs on a 24-hour cycle. It’s what regulates when your body releases melatonin to make you sleepy at night and turns up your body temperature in the morning to help you wake up.
The trick is that your circadian rhythm doesn’t know if it’s Monday or Saturday. It gets confused if you’re waking up and going to bed at different times on different days. And that interrupts the processes in your body that can help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling ready to go.
To get your circadian rhythm to work for you, you need to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Sadly, that means even on weekends. This might feel like a change — especially if you rely on a Sunday morning sleep-in to “catch up” on sleep. But if you’re struggling with sleep, establishing a routine is the #1 best thing you can do.
Avoid screens an hour before bed
Once you get your bedtime set, make it a point to go screen-free an hour (or at least 30 minutes) before. Screens emit blue light, which suppresses melatonin and confuses your circadian rhythm.
That hour before bed could be a great time to do some self-care and dig into something you enjoy, like a good book, a warm bath, or a chill hobby like macrame or coloring. If you feel like you never have enough hours in the day to do what you want, carving out some screen-free moments before bed can help you get some time back.
Put your bedroom to work for you
Your room can be an ally here. The best environment for sleep is one that’s cool and dark. If that’s not your room right now, invest in blackout curtains and a fan. You might also want to find a white noise or sleep podcast you like or get a soothing-smelling pillow spray.
Setting up your room for sleep can make you excited to climb into bed, which can help you stick to your bedtime and support your circadian rhythm.
Other sleep tips
You can do a few more things to support good sleep, like:
- Avoiding caffeine after midday
- Not eating right before bed
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet generally
- Staying out of your bed except for sleep and sex
- Avoiding naps
If you want to dig more into sleep hygiene and ways you can improve it, this article from the Sleep Foundation offers lots of info.
In our last sleep blog, we gave you a challenge. Try to stick with the same bedtime for seven straight days. When you make it to the week mark, reward yourself with some Doughp. Having this motivation can help you get your circadian rhythm established so you can get better sleep more easily. Talk about sweet dreams.