While most good sleep habits seem to be common sense there's a big disconnect between knowing what to do and actually doing it. Show of hands (jk, it's the internet) do you adhere to a sleep schedule or intentionally maintain a good sleep hygiene ritual? For most of us it's not that consistent, or maybe non existent.
Sleep hygiene just means maintaining good sleep habits, the same way you maintain your personal hygiene. It wouldn't occur to you to just skip brushing your teeth for a few weeks, or like, not showering right? Sleep is one of the most important factors in our overall health and wellbeing, so practicing good sleep hygiene is essential to how well you feel in your waking life.
So here are some simple yet actionable steps to take tonight (and every night for that matter) to ensure that not only you are sleeping well but that you are functioning at your most optimal level in all areas of your life.
Create your ideal sleeping environment
1. Turn down the temperature
Turn down the temperature (around 68 is ideal) even a few degrees can really make a difference in your quality of sleep. When you are too warm you are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night to toss the covers off, and you are also losing a lot of hydration if you sweat all night long.
Along with a a cool termperature, another key ingredient is darkness. For some that might just mean turning out the lights and making sure that lights from your alarm clock or cable box aren't facing you. For others that might also mean getting shades if you have street lights outside your window. Often times sources of light are obvious like a TV or your phone, but sometimes we have sources of light in our bedrooms that we aren't even aware of, like the blinking light on an internet modem or a laptop charger.
Tip: Not able to get your room completely dark?
Try an eye mask, like this comfy ultra-plush eye mask with memory foam. green tea and seed oil.
3. The right pajamas
This may not seem obvious to most people, but having the right pajamas can be a game changer for sleep. More than just feeling comfortable, having something to wear that is just meant for sleeping sends a signal to your brain that when the PJ's go on it's time to sleep. Most of us wear teeshirts or loungewear to bed, which makes sense because it's comfortable, but anything that you can roll out of bed and wear the next day is just not sending the right signals to your brain. Loungewear is for relaxing after work or on a Sunday morning. Having a dedicated pair of pajamas that's just meant for sleeping sets the tone for knowing that it's time to get some shut eye.
4. Ditch your phone
Ditch your phone one hour before bed. Screens are known to be awful for your brain right before bed. The blue light emitted from phones is a melatonin inhibitor. It tells your brain it's time to be up and active rather than resting. In addition to the blue light the things we do on our phone are often associated with work (emails), communicating with friends (social media) and stressful world events (news/media). Almost anything you do on your phone is doing to be telling you brain that you either have to worry about something or get something done, two things that don't need to happen before bed.
Pre-bed practices to Try
5. Reading for pleasure
Reading for pleasure, not for work, school, or even personal development. Not only will it make you sleepy and relaxed, but it will also put your brain in a state of ease, as long as you aren't choosing horror novels before bed. Having a dedicated bedtime book not only creates an enjoyable routine around bedtime, but it can also make you look forward to bed time. Usually something easy, enjoyable, and not too much of a page turner are good choices.
6. Practicing yoga poses an help you calm your mind and body after a long and hectic day. This makes it easier to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night. You can practice some yoga poses in bed including:
Legs up the wall
Seated forward bend with legs outstretched in front of you
Meditation is one of the most powerful pre-sleep practices you can do, and most guided meditations are easily accessible and short. It doesn't take long to fall asleep when you've been meditating. Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety and calm your mind so you can get to sleep quickly, and experience restful and restorative sleep. Some different types of meditation to try are:
Progressive muscle relaxation
About the author:
Caroline O'Neill Day is the creator of one our favorite wellness blogs, Bloom & Spark, a wellness lifestyle website helping women create sustainable practices in their busy lives so they can be expressions of their highest truth. She is a yoga instructor, and soulful wellness coach for high performing professionals who desire to create lasting habits and mindset shifts around their food, movement, spirituality, and self-care. Caroline has been trained by Gabrielle Bernstein to lead “May Cause Miracles” workshops, and is passionate about helping women shift their mindsets around anxiety and overwhelm. Follow her on Insta for daily health motivation @caroline.snow.wellness