We love sleep and let’s all be honest, who doesn’t? Now the question is, how do we distinguish our ability to recover better and hone in on the quality of our sleep? The answer lies within formulating our own sleep hygiene.
But what is Sleep Hygiene? In essence, sleep hygiene are behaviors and environmental interventions that we perform in able to promote high-quality sleep. Think about its simply as a sleep routine or nightly habits. (Irish et al, 2016)
Why Sleep Hygiene Is Important
It is amazing in today’s culture that the lack of sleep has been normalized. From working
overtime, late-night media scrolling, maybe a Netflix binge? Without following a routine, it is
truly hard to fall asleep.
A single thought (if stimulating enough) will have your mind racing in the middle of the night before you to bed. And sometimes that’s all it takes, voila! Your bedtime is now extended or should I say, the quantity of your sleep time is now shortened.
But I do hope that some of you know what it feels like to wake up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to go due to a great night of sleep.
And that is probably something we can all benefit from. But the topic of sleep and sleep hygiene are rarely being brought up in your daily conversations.
Not unless you’re around trainers, therapists, and professionals who would recommend and prescribe these modalities to you.
Whether you’re looking to improve your recovery, increase performance and productivity, or
just build a healthier and sustainable nightly routine. The information given below is going to be advantageous and will play an integral part in your success!
Here are: The TOP 7 Modalities You Can Utilize to Enhance Your Sleep Hygiene!
1. Avoid Caffeine/Alcohol/Nicotine Before Bed
Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are all stimulants that will keep a consumer
awake during the night. You want to avoid alcoholic beverages due to the fact
that it can significantly decrease your quality of sleep.
The same goes for any kind of caffeine source foods such as coffee, chocolate, and black tea. Likewise, smokers should abstain from consuming tobacco. Try and avoid taking these
products 4-6 hours prior to bedtime.
2. Exercise Regularly
Engaging in regular physical activity can result in improvements in sleep quality
as well as overall fitness and health. Research shows that the largest improvements were seen in individuals who regularly exercised (resistance trained, walking, etc.) for more than 60 minutes per day.
Now, if you don’t have the resources to resistance train. Here is an alternative, take the time out of your day to either walk, jog, or run for about 30-40 minutes and swear by it! Any movement is better than no movement!
3. Keep Away From Electronics Before Bedtime
We are stuck on our phones and love watching television shows before hitting
the sheets. Electronics (phone) emit blue light which can disrupt our circadian
rhythm (the body’s 24-hour internal clock) and decrease melatonin levels (a
hormone that contributes to our ability to fall asleep).
You want to stay away (or at least put it on silent mode) from your phone and television for about 40-60 minutes prior to bedtime.
Let’s be smart and use this time to relax and perform other sleep hygiene behaviors. I get it, you deserve to catch up on what you’ve missed throughout the day, but you also deserve high-quality sleep and recovery!
4. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
Aim to keep a consistent time frame from whenever you’d like to go to bed and
the time you would need to wake up. This is a key component for establishing
one’s own “internal clock”.
This is known as your circadian rhythm. It runs in a 24-hour fashion internally. It regulates alertness and sleepiness controlled by light and darkness, respectively.
Research shows that your wake-up time proves to be more important and is the primary determining factor of your circadian rhythm. Learn to keep a regular bedtime schedule and aim for 8 hours each night!
5. Create a Dark, Quiet, and Cold Room
If you absolutely want to change your recovery game and set your sleep hygiene
straight. You must create a sleep-inducing environment in your bedroom.
Turn off all the light appliances or wall lights and invest in some blackout curtains or
an eye mask. You’ll need to mimic a setting where light is kept at a minimum.
From here, you’ll need to keep a quiet room. Any nighttime noise will cause arousal to disrupting the quality of your sleep. A pair of earplugs or ambient noise will help fix this problem. Lastly (if possible), keep your bedroom temperature somewhere between 16°C and 20°C (60°F and 67°C).
6. Take a Warm Shower or Bath Before Bed
A warm shower or bath before you turn the lights off can induce a good night’s rest and improve sleep efficiency. A shower can be taken 30-minutes before you head to bed.
The science behind this is that we increase our temperature from taking a warm shower and once you’ve fallen asleep, your core temperate would decline.
This affects our sleep quality and translates to an increase in slow-wave sleep (the stage where the body does most of its restorative construction).
This is a personal opinion but I like incorporating a bit of journaling and meditation in my nightly routine. You can simply reflect on how your day went and write down all the emotions and things you’ve done.
Another method is meditation, I like to use the app “calm” or “headspace”. Keep it simple and self reflect for as long (and short) as you want.
If budget is a concern, find a sound that makes feel relaxed and sleepy. For me, the sound of a thunderstorm a classical symphony seems to do the job. You can listen for about 15-20 minutes until you fall asleep.
Is Sleep Hygiene the Same for Everyone?
We shouldn’t cut ourselves short. The ability to fall asleep is within our abilities and control. It’s mainly about the actions and behaviors that we take part in that needs to change. Following these modalities will make a huge difference in your recovery, lifestyle, and performance.
You can go from several restless nights to sleeping beauty in a matter of a few nights. Keep note that although these sleep hygiene behaviors are mostly done during the night, the
actions you take during the day also matters.
From the food you consume, choice of beverages, imposed stress (psychological/physiological). It can all play a part and affect the quality of your recovery.
I want you to be mindful, self-aware, and most importantly be consistent with your approach to building stronger and sustainable sleep habits. Be the best version of yourself and strive to be better. Remember that you’re only as strong as your recovery goes.