Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Tips to Promote Sleep Hygiene

Pam is a 60 year old woman who is reluctant to try any medication and dissatisfied with western medicines. She rather prefers natural ways of healing. She works at a public institution all day. Due to her busy long routine, she has trouble falling asleep and is really concerned about her quality of sleep as she feels very tired during the day after not getting enough rest.

People who tend to have a very busy lifestyle often ignore the importance of sleep. Not having a good night sleep can greatly affect your performance the next day. Recent studies have indicated extending sleep hours of people who are sleep deprived can improve their health outcomes.

Health tips to promote sleep hygiene

To practice better sleep hygiene, focusing on night time routine as well as day time activities is equally important. Here are some ways that may help you improve the quality and quantity of sleep.

  • Are you exercising regularly?
    Physical activity during the day can help improve your quality of sleep at night. Numerous clinical studies have shown moderate physical exercise to be beneficial for sleep quality in both young and old populations. Moderate physical exercises may include pilates, brisk walking, Tai chi, bicycling and daily home activities.
  • Do you take long naps during day time?
    Avoid long day time naps to have enough sleep debt for the night. Short day time naps for 30 minutes are fine to regain energy during the day.
  • How much time do you spend outdoors?
    Fresh air and light can improve your overall wellness that will in turn be beneficial for your sleep.
  • How good are your eating habits?
    Avoid caffeine intake later in the day. Effects of caffeine can last for upto 8 hours and can result in difficulty falling asleep. Avoid heavy food intake at night as going to bed full stomach will result in indigestion and heartburn (acidity), thereby affecting sleep.
  • Do you know some foods that can help with sleep?
    Warm milk has been a memory of childhood and no doubt there is a reason behind it. Warm milk is enriched with melatonin, vitamin D, calcium, and tryptophan which help promote sleep. Some foods that can help you sleep better are rich in sleep-promoting chemicals that include melatonin, its precursor amino acid tryptophan, serotonin, and other molecules that increase the production of these brain chemicals. Almonds and walnuts contain melatonin, turkey is a source of tryptophan.
  • Do you have a sleep schedule?
    Maintain a regular sleep schedule with a set time for going to sleep every night and getting up around the same time in the morning.
  • Have you tried other relaxing techniques?
    A warm bath infused with relaxing aromatherapy oils can help relax your muscles. Spend a few minutes meditating to help calm your body and mind.
  • Have you considered herbs?
    Clinical studies have shown the benefits of lavender oil aromatherapy on improving sleep and relieving anxiety in critical care settings. Chamomile is another herb rich in antioxidants that promote sleep.
  • Do you think your bedroom is comfortable?
    Set the bedroom environment to be quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. The bed itself is a medium that you rely on for sleep. So make sure the mattress, pillows, and bed linen is comfortable for you.
  • Have you heard about sleep journals?
    Maintain a sleep journal where you can write the things that cause you stress and things that you have improved on. Make a to-do list for the next day, so you don’t have to worry when you go to bed. You can also record your sleep routine to see if your sleep pattern improves over time or if it’s getting worse. This will also help you if you seek any medical help.
  • Do you know certain things you might want to avoid?
    Cigarettes, alcohol, and over-the-counter medications may cause fragmented sleep. Replace electronics with books. Electronic devices generate blue light that affects sleep. Clinical studies have shown the impact of blue light from electronic screens decreased the duration of deep sleep.
  • Do you frequently go to the bathroom at night?
    Frequent urination at night is known as “nocturia.” Some reasons for increased urination include drinking lots of fluid before bedtime, or it could be symptoms of other underlying conditions. Seek advice from a healthcare provider if it persists for a long time.
  • Consider cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I is a structured approach that will help identify and overcome the underlying cause of sleep problems.
  • Consider downloading an App that can track your sleep patterns.

Overall, sleep hygiene is not about one activity, you can choose a combination of ways to improve your sleep. If you are still experiencing sleep issues and it’s getting worse over time, you might want to seek help from a healthcare professional.