Sleep Hygiene

Woman sleeping in bed

Many of us underestimate the power and benefits of a good night’s sleep. Consistently going to sleep around 9-10pm will help your mood, concentration and memory. Establishing an excellent sleep hygiene will pay off in the short and long-run. But realistically speaking, we are too distracted by technology, social media, Netflix and cell phones. If you learn to become disciplined by cutting out technology at 9-10pm and training your mind to fall asleep, you will start to notice positive changes to your mental health.

The Importance of a Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is one of the most underutilized tools for mental performance. Especially in modern-day society, most of us seek ways to optimize our performance during the day. A lot of people rely on coffee, others seek amphetamines and designer drugs, and some work extremely hard while sacrificing quality sleep at night. Let’s not forget cigarettes; many smoke before activities to get that increased stimulation. What’s missing from this picture? Quality sleep. We’re pumping stimulants and hard work during daylight hours while sacrificing quality sleep during nighttime hours.

Sleep is extremely important for the brain to rest and recover and the body to rejuvenate itself. The brain consolidates memories during sleep and the body heals from stress and pain. With a good night’s sleep, your memory, concentration, alertness and mood can significantly improve. Even a few hours of sleep can make a huge difference! But you can’t just go to sleep early once a week and expect to see consistent changes. You have to make a good sleep hygiene a new habit in your life.

First things first: you must want to go to sleep early. If you don’t want it, it’s going to be very difficult for you to apply the sleep hygiene recommendations I’m about to share with you. Okay, so let’s say you want it, but how do you go about doing it? Right when you feel sleepy around 9pm or so, stop everything you’re doing, turn off the lights and go to bed. I’m serious! If you can capitalize on that sleepy moment by trying to fall asleep, it will be much easier to do so. You won’t even be aware of the time. If you’re willing to do this, then keep reading.

White woman sleeping in bed practicing sleep hygiene

Sleep Recommendations

  • Go to sleep early when you’re actually sleepy (9pm is the sweet spot)
  • Turn off the lights (yes, that nightlight as well)
  • No electronics! (I’m serious, no cell phones, iPads or television)
  • Get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes (go to the couch and read or just lay there for 15 minutes, then return to bed)
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex (no laying around just for fun – well I guess sex is fun but you get the point)
  • Go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time (your brain doesn’t like change when it comes to sleep)

It might not be easy for you to incorporate the above recommendations, but if you keep practicing, it will eventually come to fruition.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Sleep Hygiene

Pretty young brunette woman sleeping on green tropical leaves during daytime

Sleeping More Efficiently

It’s not about sleeping more or less. Sleeping too much takes away time from potentially important activities which you can be doing. Sleeping too little contributes to fatigue and decreased work performance. You have to discover the happy medium where you are getting just the right amount of sleep.

Sleep hygiene is a concept based on the fact that one needs to avoid certain behaviors in order to fall into a good sleep. Inconsistent bedtimes contribute to poor sleep because your brain is not being allowed to adjust to one particular hour of falling asleep. The same applies with inconsistent wakeup times.

Besides no electronics in the bedroom, soda or alcohol prior to bedtime and no intensive exercising a few hours before going to sleep, you also need to listen to your mind and body! Many of us don’t listen to our tired mind because we are too preoccupied with staying up and getting more done.

Especially adolescents; they have a difficult time listening to their mind because they are distracted by video games, texting, calling or watching Netflix. What they are essentially doing is ignoring their mind’s request for proper sleep. This results in less efficient sleep and feeling more tired during the day.

The reason we are so hesitant on getting a proper night’s rest is because many of us find sleep to be boring. We’d rather be up accomplishing something. The fighting spirit is great to have but not when it impacts your physical and mental well-being. Do not forget the basics; they always come first!

Learn to be efficient during the day and while you sleep. You become efficient during your sleep by adopting a proper sleep hygiene and listening to your mind when it’s telling you that it’s tired. Sometimes you just have to drop what it is that you are doing and go to sleep.

It will pay off the next day with a bright smile on your mind’s face!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Importance Of Sleep

Man with hand on his face suffering from lack of sleep

What Can Lack Of Sleep Do To You?

Do not underestimate the importance of sleep. We lead busy lives full of responsibilities and goals that sometimes interfere with our sleep hygiene. After a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is go to sleep, only to wake up and go to work again; where is the excitement?

After a long day of work, you want to spend time with your family, play your favorite video game, drink a beer and watch “the game” or rent a new movie. But sometimes this pattern has to be broken by a good night’s sleep. The truth is that a good sleep hygiene will help you enjoy your downtime much more.

A lack of sleep can flip your personality upside down and turn you into someone who you are not: miserable, irritable, rude, defensive and easily annoyed. Your school and work performance may decrease; your concentration becomes subpar. You may lose interest in exercising; playing a sport may become more challenging and less interesting.

Many people underestimate the importance of sleep because they feel as if they are not gaining much from it; after all, the saying goes, “sleep is the cousin of death.” But in reality, sleep is when memories become consolidated, your mind and body recuperate, your fatigue dissipates and your mood stabilizes.

Developing the following sleep hygiene is crucial to reaping the benefits of sleep:

  • Go to sleep at the same hour every night
  • Wake up at the same hour every morning
  • Leave your bed after 30 minutes if you cannot fall asleep (the bed is only for sleep and sex)
  • Do not eat or drink a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not consume alcohol a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not exercise a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not use electronics prior to sleep
  • Do not read, watch television or use the internet prior to sleep
  • Do not rely on sleeping medications

Once you start to appreciate the benefits of sleep, you will become thankful for rediscovering a fresh and vibrant version of yourself!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Benefits Of Sleep

The sleep hygiene of a cat sleeping under a white comforter

A Proper Sleepy Head

It is unimaginable how important sleep is to your wellbeing. To properly function and maximize your potential in life, you need a proper sleep hygiene. A sleep hygiene is a set of routines that you consistently stick to that allows you to maintain a good sleep over the long run:

  • Do not exercise the immediate hours prior to sleep (this will keep you awake since you are already energized from the workout)
  • No not consume a large meal before sleep (your body will be focused on the digestion process rather than resting)
  • Do not drink a lot of alcohol before sleep (alcohol may make you fall asleep easier, but it actually interrupts your REM sleep, causing you to wake up more frequently, resulting in morning tiredness)
  • Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning (your internal clock which is located in a region of your brain called the hypothalamus becomes used to a set schedule – mess up this schedule and you will start having problems with sleep)
  • Stay away from caffeine before sleep
  • If you find yourself not being able to fall asleep after laying down for 30 minutes in bed, get out of bed and go do something else, and return back to bed in 30 minutes (laying in bed while not being able to fall asleep actually trains your mind to relate the bed with poor sleep)
  • Do not read, watch TV or utilize electronics while in bed (the bed should be associated only with sleep and sex; the rest can be done during the day outside of bed)

Did you know that sleep keeps your heart healthy? Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep may prevent cancer! Light suppresses the sleep hormone called melatonin; hence, why it is not produced during the day by your pineal gland. If you use electronics while going to sleep, you are telling your brain “I’m not ready to go to sleep” and your brain interprets this as a signal to shutdown melatonin production. Melatonin is thought to suppress the growth of tumors.

Sleep reduces stress! When you do not sleep properly, your body experiences stress. This results in stress hormones being released as well as an elevation of blood pressure. Stress hormones make it harder for you to fall asleep, promote inflammation and elevated blood pressure, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep increases your energy level! After a good night’s sleep, you feel energized and mentally refreshed, allowing you to tackle the day’s work with a positive mindset, promoting happiness. This is why sleep hygiene is important!

Sleeps improves memory! During sleep, a process called memory consolidation occurs. Your brain is busy integrating everything that happened during the day, including new information that you have learned. Improved memory helps you become a better communicator, score higher on tests and feel better about yourself.

Sleep may help you lose weight! People who sleep less become hungrier during the day; the appetite hormones Leptin and Ghrelin become disrupted, resulting in hunger. Therefore, maintain a proper 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your hormones functioning in the normal range.

Overall, sleep is good for your mental and physical wellbeing. It is important that you maintain a good sleep hygiene; especially in this day and age, where we are living in an ultra-competitive and cut-throat society.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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