sleep hygiene: a comprehensive guide to better nights sleep

December 04, 2017

What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to 'rituals' you can regularly implement, in order for you to have a good nights sleep. Turns out the beauty community on Youtube were onto something with their Nighttime Routines. If you follow a certain routine, it can give your mind and body a heads up that you're planning on hitting the hay soon, which will help you fall asleep faster, instead of lying awake as the night ticks on. 

Examples of Sleep Hygiene
One easy example of ritual could be having a herbal tea, with the flavour you only drink when you want to go to sleep. By doing so, your body will make an association between the flavour of tea and feeling of sleepiness, a very textbook example of classical conditioning. To speed up this classical conditioning process, I suggest the first time few times you do drink this tea, do so when you are already extremely tired. Similarly, don't have it for the first time on an extremely restless night otherwise, you could induce the opposite of the desired effect.
 Other examples include:
+ yoga or light stretching
+ applying an essential oil to your wrists
+ reading three pages of a book
+ having a warm shower
Even actions as simple as washing your face, applying your night cream and brushing your teeth right before bed could be you sleep hygiene routine.

Other ways to improve sleep
+ avoid caffeine. Go on a short caffeine detox and then reintroduce it into your days, paying attention to how your body reacts, then you will be able to gauge how long before bed you should avoid it. I personally can't have a coffee after 2pm.  
+ engage in exercise during your day
+ ensure adequate exposure to sunlight
+ avoid anything hyperstimulating or emotional in the evenings, such as certain TV shows or even arguments with loved ones
+ if there something that is on your mind that is keeping you from having a good night sleep, address it. 

What to avoid when trying to improve your sleep
It needs to be acknowledged that giving yourself strict bedtimes will not induce better sleeping. It has been noted that for optimal sleep, you should aim to get at least two hours in before midnight. However, the desire and tendency to overcontrol sleep can have negative consequences such as inducing stress or anxiety. It is far more beneficial to learn to work with your body and mind, go to bed when you feel sleepy. You actually need to give yourself a moment to realise you are feeling tired, because if your just binge-watching Netflix, you might be too distracted and miss your own personal cues until you become overtired. 

A personal noteI consider myself to be quite a good sleep, I think I can contribute that to being bought up with quick positive sleep hygiene habits as well as having quite an active job during the day. I know I used to struggle during my high school years, I would lay awake counting down the hours until when I had to be awake the next day, which used to lead to increased anxiety and made it harder to go to sleep.  It was sort of a destructive process, so I got out of that habit and started introducing more positive sleep hygiene rituals. 

Thanks for stopping by and having a read of my blog, I hope it was helpful. 

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