Good Sleep Hygiene: Vital to Wellness

In today's world, multitasking and busyness are valued over stillness and rest. So we often overlook the fact that establishing regular sleeping habits is an essential part of our health. We are constantly "plugged in" throughout the day with smartphones, making it almost impossible to wind down and get a restful night's sleep.

According to the CDC, there is a link between sleep deprivation and chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. If you are endlessly struggling with sleep, consult a physician or sleep medicine clinic that can evaluate you for a possible sleep disorder. 

What changes can we make to our sleep routine? The National Sleep Foundation recommends these practical tips in the quest to get a more restful night's sleep:

  • Evaluate your sleeping environment. Survey your room for artificial light, and make your bedroom as dark as possible. Artificial light can send wake-up messages to the brain and make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Experts also recommend keeping your bedroom temperature around 65 degrees for the best night's sleep.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before going to sleep. Take a hot bath and develop a "gratitude" practice. This means giving thanks for things that happened each day that you feel good about and/or for specific things in your life for which you are grateful.
  • Avoid napping during the day. It can disturb the normal pattern of sleep.
  • Avoid things that "pep" you up, such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or electronics, too close to bedtime. Alcohol is well known to help people fall asleep faster, but it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, which causes arousal.
  • Exercise can promote good sleep. The best time for exercise is in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night's sleep.
  • Get enough natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside frequently. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Wishing you a pleasant night's sleep!