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Sleep Hygiene: The Art Of Sleeping Better

Sleeping as a state of being and of physical rest is known to be vital to maintaining proper functionality of one’s own self; and yet some of us might find ourselves going through life without being able to reap the benefits of what we might call a good and restful night’s sleep.

While research recommends getting about 7-9 hours of sleep on a daily basis as healthy, this number may differ from person to person and across a lifetime and hence this may not be the best or at least, the only indicator of sleep related health concerns.

Other signs that are related to a poor quality of sleep include:

  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Disruptions within the sleeping period
  • Daytime fatigue, tiredness and/fogginess
  • Experience of sleep disorders
  • Symptoms of physical and mental illness sometimes also include an impact on one’s sleep

Paying attention to these signs is an important step in bettering one’s quality and quantity of sleep, a goal which can further be worked on using habits that promote one’s ‘sleep hygiene’ that revolve mainly around having a bedroom environment and daytime routines to facilitate consistent and uninterrupted sleeping patterns.

Ensuring such routines is known to help not just in achievement and sustainable maintenance of good sleep but as a result of doing so, aid in improving mood, memory, productivity, overall health and wellbeing and quality of life.

Changes related to creating enhanced sleep hygiene habits are additionally associated with marginal costs and hence are an accessible way to better one’s mental and physical health. It is important to note that while the concept of optimizing one’s habits, routine and environment can be applied to one and all, what optimized sleep hygiene looks like may be different for different people.

Figuring out what that looks like for you would require testing various methods, tips and techniques, but professional support and other treatments would be needed in case you are experiencing a relatively more serious sleep concern, like severe insomnia or depression.

So how does one get around to practicing better sleep hygiene?

  • Setting (and maintaining) a consistent sleep schedule: With time, this is meant to get your body’s rhythm and internal clock used to taking the appropriate amount of sleep that it needs for healthy functioning. This can be achieved by steps such as:
    • getting up and sleeping at more or less the same time every day
    • prioritizing sleep over other activities according to these timings
    • making smaller adjustments to one’s routine instead of making larger changes, and
    • avoiding sleeping or napping during the day
  • Create a relaxing and sustainable pre-bedtime and bedtime routine: Preparing for sleep helps the body and mind relax and can impact the ease with which one falls asleep. The following tips can be kept in mind when you’re attempting to shape your personal routine:
    • sleeping when you’re feeling sleepy, and getting up to do something relaxing and comforting if not able to sleep
    • taking some time to wind down from regular activities and avoiding using gadgets or devices in this time. This time may be used for calming activities like meditation, reading, light stretching, bathing with warm water, etc.
    • keeping this routine consistent creating an environment bound to help you sleep by dimming lights, quieting noises or sounds that may disrupt sleep, and
    • keeping the room comfortably cool
  • Creating healthier habits in the day: These changes support one’s schedule and healthier circadian rhythms to ensure better sleeping patterns, and may include:
    • Do not use the bed for anything other than sleeping; this is to help create a mindful link between the act of sleeping and the bed
    • Avoid alcohol, especially during the latter part of the day, as it is known to affect the length and quality of one’s sleep even though it might make one feel drowsy at first
    • Avoid caffeine and nicotine consumption in a similar manner, as these have a stimulating affect on the body’s nervous system which then makes it harder to fall asleep
    • A regular exercise routine may also contribute to a better sleep
    • Eat lighter meals at night, as this eases the load on the digestive system around one’s time of sleep. Heavy meals and foods have been associated with concerns like indigestion, heartburn, and disrupted sleeping patterns

The above mentioned tips are meant to be taken as guidelines to help you sleep more easily than you may be sleeping presently, and are meant to be practiced as regularly as possible such that their benefits become more accessible and automatic.

You may use some of the above or all – these can be freely adapted to one’s personal routines to make for better sleeping patterns of the individual.

Here’s wishing you a good and restful night!

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