Getting good sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but many of us aren’t getting the sleep we need. In fact, as Dr. Oz explains, “the negative effects of insufficient sleep are the No. 1 health problem people are now waking up to,” and that’s a problem. The good news is that you can take control of your sleep by establishing good sleep hygiene. 

What is Sleep Hygiene? 

Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and environment that encourage restful sleep. If you find yourself regularly getting less than the recommended amount of sleep for adults, 7-9 hours, establishing good sleep hygiene is a great way for you to combat insufficient sleep.  

Sleep Hygiene Tips 

There are several things you can do to improve your sleep during the day, right before bed, and while you’re sleeping. These sleep hygiene tips can help you identify ways to improve your sleep habits so you get the rest you deserve.  

1. Set a Consistent Sleep Schedule 

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is a great place to start when trying to improve your sleep. Our bodies follow a 24-hour clock called our circadian rhythm, which controls our sleep-wake cycle. By going to bed and waking up at the same time, our circadian rhythm stays on track so our bodies know when to be sleepy and when to stay awake. 

2. Create a Bedtime Routine 

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine signals your brain that it is time to go to bed. Your nightly routine can include relaxing activities such as taking a bath, reading, or writing in a journal, or it could be as simple as putting pajamas on and brushing your teeth. The most important thing is consistency.  

3. Avoid Blue Light Before Bed 

Blue light—the light that emits from cell phones and TVs—boosts alertness, which is great during the day but not when you’re going to bed. Try to put electronics away at least half an hour before bedtime so your body doesn’t think it’s supposed to be awake. 

4. Soothing Bedroom Environment 

It’s important to want to go to bed when going to bed, so turn your bedroom into a soothing environment you want to spend time in. That can mean anything from turning the temperature down to ensuring you have a comfortable mattress and bedding. After all, you should be spending 7-9 hours in bed every night. Make it a time you enjoy.  

5. Bed=Sleep 

Your brain is great at making associations, which is why it’s important to reserve your bed for sleep and sex. If all you do in bed is sleep or have sex, your brain knows that it’s time to sleep when you lie down at night. Avoid doing other activities in bed such as working or watching TV.  

6. Relax Your Mind 

We’ve all had those moments when we can’t get to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night because we’re stressed about something. Before going to bed, try relaxing your mind by meditating or writing down the stresses of the day. You can even try using a weighted blanket to see if that helps you relax.  

7. What To Do if You Wake Up 

Sometimes, we just have those moments when we wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. If that happens and you’ve been trying to get back to sleep for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something else relaxing—like reading—until you feel tired. Remember, we want our beds to be associated with sleep, not sleeplessness.  

8. Strategic Napping 

Every once in a while, no matter how much you slept, you can still get tired in the middle of the day. It’s perfectly fine to take naps, but be strategic about it. Nap before 2:00 or 3:00 PM and only sleep for about 10-20 minutes.  

9. Avoid Sleep Stealers 

It’s important to avoid things during the day that can interrupt your sleep. Regular exercise can help you sleep, but don’t exercise too close to bedtime otherwise you can’t sleep. Avoid alcohol and caffeine too soon before bed. Alcohol can disturb your sleep cycles and caffeine can prevent you from getting to sleep. Also, make sure you aren’t too hungry or too full before bed. Both can disturb your sleep. 

10. Pay Attention to your Body 

Ultimately, you need to pay attention to your body. For example, if you know you sleep hot at night, make your bedroom environment cooler. Or if you have been stressed throughout the day, make sure you build in some time to relax before bed. 

It’s Not Working 

There are instances when you may have tried all these suggestions and you’re still tired when you wake up. If that sounds like you, consult your doctor. It could be that you’re suffering from a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea.  

Remember, restful nights don’t happen by accident. In order to get the rest you deserve, use the tips here and cater them to your needs so you can establish good sleep hygiene. 

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