Sleep Hygiene Tips: Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Life

Sleep is so critical to good health. Improve the quality of your sleep and aim for the right amount of sleep for you (somewhere between 7-9 hours per night). In doing this, you will improve your health and increase your energy, creativity and enjoyment of life.

Sleep hygiene tips:

Tip #1: Create an optimal sleep environment.
● Cool: slightly cool temperature in bedroom promotes sleep (around 65 degrees F)
● Quiet: minimize noise from humans, pets and devices
Consider ear plugs if unable to control noise (ex: partner snores, loud sounds outside)
● Make your bedroom into an inviting relaxation retreat
Limit bedroom activities to sleep and sex
Ban devices: don’t bring devices or work into the bedroom
Comfortable mattress and pillow
Soft, fresh sheets and blankets
Aromatherapy: lavender promotes relaxation
● Darkness: even small amounts of light at night can throw off your biological clock. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible during the night. Here are some ideas:

■ Window shades which completely block out light
■ Eye mask
■ No lights or night lights on inside the bedroom

Tip #2: Avoid stimulants and alcohol at night.
● Caffeine (coffee, black tea): avoid after 5 p.m.
● Be aware of hidden caffeine in soda, chocolate, medications
● Nicotine has a stimulant effect
● Alcohol interferes with maintaining sleep
Tends to promote falling asleep initially, but also awakening a few hours later

Tip #3: Body temperature: avoid getting overheated
● Feeling slightly cool tends to promote sleep
● Your body temperature normally drops 1 or 2 degrees at night to prepare for sleep

● Avoid activities at night that increase body temperature:
Finish exercising at least 3 hours before bed
Avoid hot showers before bed
Blankets should offer the right amount of warmth but not be too warm. Turn off heat and electric blankets before bed.

Tip #4: Create a Relaxation Ritual for the hour before bed
● Unplug: literally and mentally – put away devices and work; stop thinking about work
● Avoid stressful, upsetting emotions
● Wind down with relaxing activities. Try 1 or 2 of these ideas tonight:

○ Reconnecting with partner, friend or pet
○ Deep breathing exercises
○ Meditation / Guided Meditation / Prayer
○ Gentle yoga or stretching
○ Herbal tea
○ Listening to or playing music (nothing too raucous or overstimulating though!)
○ Writing in journal
○ Gratitude exercise: write down 3 things you’re grateful for
○ Reading, audiobooks
If reading on computer, tablet or phone, make sure it’s on the night mode setting to block out blue light (exposure to blue light on your device could delay sleep).

Tip #5: Reboot your biological clock
● Cortisol is involved in your sense of alertness during the day. When it’s functioning normally, it should begin to rise first thing in the morning.
Exposing yourself to sunlight early in the day prompts cortisol to begin to rise at the right time
● Sunlight is much more powerful than artificial light – even on a cloudy day!
Get outside in the morning as early as possible:
– Garden, tend to plants
– Walk dog, walk yourself! Jog around the neighborhood.
– Breakfast in the backyard or on the patio of your favorite coffeehouse

Sweet dreams!

Copyright 2022, Lisa Henderson, RDN / Vitalita Health