Not getting enough sleep for extended periods of time can have serious consequences on your physical and mental health. Lack of sleep has been linked to everything from chronic disease and obesity to increased car crash risks and stress.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is the practice of taking steps to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Some of these steps are related to your physical bedtime routine (what you do before bed), while others relate to your lifestyle choices and behaviors.
The concept of sleep hygiene is not new, but in the past decade, many experts have recommended that people pay more attention to the role of sleep in their overall health. Sleep hygiene has been shown to help with a wide variety of health issues, including chronic pain, cardiovascular complaints, and anxiety.
In general, sleep is important for two reasons. It helps us recover from the wear and tear of daily life and it prepares us for the next day. Most of our restorative functions occur during slow-wave sleep (SWS), which occurs during the deepest stages of rest. SWS takes up about half of our nightly sleeping time, and it’s important for muscle repair, growth, and tissue development.
This third phase of sleep occurs during the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) phase of sleep, and is characterized using delta waves, which support memory consolidation and retention.
7 Habits of Good Sleep Hygiene
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day: If you have a regular schedule for sleep and wakefulness, your body will become accustomed to that rhythm.
- Dimming the lights an hour before bedtime: Light is a powerful stimulant, so it’s important to reduce its impact before bed.
- Avoiding caffeine late in the day: Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can interfere with sleep.
- Stopping exercise a few hours before bed: While regular exercise is important for overall health, doing it too close to bedtime can stimulate blood flow and keep you awake.
- Practicing relaxation exercises or meditation: These activities can help you unwind and prepare for sleep, even if you do them right before bed.
- Sleeping in a comfortable climate: The temperature and humidity in your home also supports better sleep. Ideally, the temperature should hover around 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18.3 degrees on the Celsius scale. This temperature may vary a few degrees, depending on the person, but most sleep experts recommend setting a room’s temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit or 15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius.
- Only sleeping in the room you designate as your sleeping space: If you get used to sleeping in the room you use for your bedroom, you’ll be less likely to have problems sleeping. For example, don’t watch TV in your bedroom or answer emails in bed on a notebook computer. Make your bedroom a sleeping sanctuary instead.
Sleep is as important as diet and exercise, and anyone can benefit from good sleep hygiene. With a little attention to your bedtime routine, you can make sure you are making the most of your nightly rest. From avoiding caffeine and too much light to exercising and relaxing, there are many ways to improve the quality of your slumber at night.
Great Northern Helps Injured Workers Recover
Great Northern Therapy Associates has many therapists throughout several states who can meet via remotely (and in person, if preferred), to work with injured workers and develop an individualized plan to help them adjust and successfully return to work.
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