Rest and good quality sleep are crucial for both your physical and mental wellbeing. You can’t expect your body or mind to perform if you don’t allow the rest and recovery they both need. A great way to encourage better sleep, is to practice sleep hygiene.
Now, I’ll admit, when I first heard the term ‘sleep hygiene’ I just assumed it meant being clean before going to bed, and changing the bedding often. In actual fact it is defined as behaviours and routines you can include into your evening routine in the lead up to you catching those all-important Z’s.
Maintain a schedule
By going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time, you train your body to adopt the routine, commonly referred to as your body clock. I know I’m not the only one who enjoys a long lay in on the weekend, but this could actually be detrimental to your overall sleeping pattern. Your timing should ideally only fluctuate by about half an hour either side.
Don’t stay in bed
A terrible habit for many of us is to lay awake in bed when we can’t sleep. I myself do it, when I’ve got a million things flooding through my brain when I’m trying to sleep I just lay there in the dark. If you’ve been lying awake with an overactive brain for over 30 minutes, rather than continue to fight a losing battle, the best thing to do is get out of bed. Don’t turn the lights on or grab your phone, this will just wake you up even more, instead you should go and sit somewhere quiet and let your mind clear until you start to get sleepy.
A great way of letting your body know it’s time to sleep, is to give it physical cues to pick up on. By reducing light an hour or so before you actually want to go to bed, you help encourage your body to start the process of shutting down. We have a dimmer light in our room, so I’ll gradually turn it down more and more before its time to go to sleep. When it does come time to go to sleep, your room should be as dark as possible.
Your bed is for sleep
Well, some of the time….
But seriously, as great as it is to read before bed to unwind, you should avoid doing it in bed if you can. The more you associate being in bed with ‘awake’ things the less you’ll associate it with actual sleep. The same goes for phones, computers and watching TV. Keep your bed reserved exclusively for sleeping and sex.
As well as being good for you physically, exercise will help promote good quality and continuous sleep. Although it is worth remembering that exercise causes endorphins to circulate the body, which will hinder sleep immediately after exercise.
For the best sleep, the temperature of your room should be slightly cooler. If you can crack open a window to allow a little fresh air in, then even better. That doesn’t mean you should be cold though, and ideally your hands and feet should be warm – so break out those fluffy bed socks!
There are many different ways you can promote self-care, so why not give some of the above a try, and see how you feel. I’s just a few small changes to your routine that could leave you feeling better both mentally and physically.