Just like having good oral hygiene is necessary to maintain optimum health of your teeth and gums, adopting good “sleep hygiene” habits can help you increase the chance of a healthy, restful night’s sleep.
Here are some tips on how you can enhance your nightly sleeping patterns and wake up feeling refreshed:
- One of the most important ways to ensure good sleep hygiene is by maintaining a solid sleep schedule. You must allow enough time for sleep, no matter how busy you may be. It is typically recommended that adults obtain at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, depending on your age (please see our helpful sleep chart at the bottom of the Health Risks Due to Sleep Loss page). Serious physical and mental health concerns can develop from lack of proper sleep, so a regular sleep routine is very helpful for maintaining good sleep hygiene. This means establishing a time to go to sleep and a time to wake up that is consistent, day in and day out. Try to hit the hay at approximately the same time each night, while setting your alarm for roughly the same time in the morning.
- Leaving the TV on may encourage you to stay awake, which can ultimately lead to poor-quality sleep. It’s best to just turn it off before bed.
- Reading a book may get you into a more relaxed state before drifting off.
- The light emanating from digital devices such as smartphones and tablet computers can have an effect on the production of melatonin in the brain, tricking it into thinking it’s still daytime. Try turning off these devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol right before sleep. Alcoholic beverages can prevent a continuous REM sleep.
- Avoid smoking ahead of bedtime as well. Smoking before sleeping may limit “deep sleep” time, which can lead to fragmented sleep.
- Herbal tea can sometimes help people relax. With that in mind, try to avoid beverages containing caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
- Turn off all the lights and try to make your sleeping quarters are as dark as possible.
- Avoid sedative sleep aids.
- Avoid sleeping in a supine position.
- If you are not at a healthy weight, weight loss may help you attain a healthier night’s sleep.
- Exercise (though not immediately before bedtime) can help burn energy and prepare your body for sleep.
- Stretching right before you go to sleep can help relax the body.
- Meditation or yoga before bed can help you relax the mind.
- A lighter and/or earlier dinner can reduce the chance that you’re hitting the feathers with a full stomach that makes lying down very uncomfortable.
- Certain foods such as turkey, dairy products, bananas, honey, and nuts contain ingredients that may induce sleep.
- A warm shower can help you relax your muscles before bed.
- Keep in mind that naps during the day may prevent you from getting a full, deep sleep once bedtime rolls around.
- Set your alarm for the time you need to actually get out of bed instead of a time built for hitting the snooze button. Snoozing can fragment your sleep and lead to fatigue during waking hours.
- Certain scents – such as tea tree oil and lavender – can help soothe you into sleep.
- How hot or cold is it in your bedroom? The temperature can play an important part in establishing good sleeping habits. A good target is often somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees.
- Noise and movement from dogs, cats, or other domesticated animals can interrupt your sleeping pattern. If this is the case, it may be best to have your pets sleep in another area of your home. If they are especially noisy, it might be time for a check-up with your veterinarian to determine if there are any potential health issues.
- Never underestimate the power of a comfortable mattress! If it’s not just about right (i.e. too hard, too soft, or unsatisfactory in any way), it might be time to search for a new one.
- Have you considered getting earplugs to block out any potential noise at night? The noise environment is very important. If you are one of the many individuals who feel they need some type of soft noise to help them drift off to sleep, perhaps a sound conditioner that plays “white noise” may be worth looking into. Even so, it’s important that any ambient noise is consistent, not variable (like the noise coming from a television).
- Believe it or not, the position of clocks in your room may actually make a difference in whether you have a peaceful or fragmented sleep. If you find yourself constantly checking to see what time it is and watching the minutes and seconds tick by, you may be increasing your level of stress, which can then make it harder to drift off. In these cases, it may be best to set your alarm clock in a position where you can’t easily see the time.
Establishing good sleep hygiene routines is as important as maintaining oral health, dietary, and exercise regimens. Remember, good habits are often just as hard to break as bad ones. Once you have a healthy sleep hygiene routine down, it should lead to a more restful night’s sleep for as long as you maintain it.
There are many other things you can do to help you enjoy a restful sleep at night. If you’d like more information, we will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea, please contact us today.