Today we’re talking about sleep hygiene. Now this is a very important pillar of general health. We talk about exercise. We talk about nutrition and reducing your stress. But getting a good night’s sleep is a really important thing.
I have a list of recommendations that I give to my patients for having good sleep hygiene. And I’m not going to give you an exhaustive list but I will just give you my top half dozen pointers on how to have a good night’s sleep.
Number one is be regular with the time that you go to bed and the time you get up in the morning. Regardless of the quality of sleep, have a standard time that you go to bed and a standard time to get up in the morning.
Number two, it sounds obvious but avoid caffeine and nicotine within about four hours of going to bed. Caffeine obviously can interrupt your sleep but nicotine can as well.
Another one that should be avoided immediately prior to bedtime is alcohol. So if you’re going to have a drink, have it with your supper. Have a glass of wine with supper but don’t drink alcohol right before bed expecting that that’s going to put you to sleep. Because what actually happens is it ends up wearing off about three or four hours later.
You wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back asleep. So try to curtail the alcohol consumption closer to suppertime rather than bedtime.
The next thing would be developing certain rituals that help in the evening to get you ready for sleep. Often people will enjoy having a hot bath or a hot tub, doing a little bit of gentle stretching, having some quiet time or meditation. That all helps to prepare you for sleep.
The next thing is to make sure that the bedroom is the right space. It needs to be dark. It needs to be quiet and it needs to be a fairly cool temperature. The bedroom should be only for sleeping and one other thing! I won’t elaborate on what that one other thing is. But it shouldn’t be the place where you’re watching television, paying bills, on the computer, those kinds of other tasks.
And finally, it’s a really good idea for you to shut off the television and shut off the cell phone and the other media devices about an hour before you plan to go to bed. Instead, just relax and read a book or listen to some quiet music. Those other things are very stimulating and they’re not the best things to prepare your mind for a good night’s sleep.
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