In my first blog about sleeping, we discussed some myths and facts about sleep. I left you with some questions about your own sleeping habits along with an assignment to track your alertness during the day. Today, we will look at the bare essentials when it comes to sleep hygiene.
Well what is sleep hygiene? Take a shower; Brush the teeth; Clip the nails? No (well yes, but that is just regular hygiene). I am talking about SLEEP hygiene.
Sleep hygiene, in my own words, is the protocol that you would follow in order to ensure the highest quality of sleep for a specific night.
It is important to know that your internal clock (yes you actually do have an internal clock) sits right above the optic chiasm. Why is this essential to know (and what is an optic chiasm)? The nerves that allow you to see are called your optic nerves and they actually cross paths and attach to the opposite side of the brain. The nerves cross about one to two inches from the front of your face and that is where the internal clock is located in the brain.
So what? SO! The amount of light taken in is directly related to your alertness (or sleepiness). It makes sense that our ancestors slept and awoke with the sun, right? Applying this to your daily life, you should make sure that your lights are turned down low within an hour of going to sleep.
Here is my TOP 6 LIST of Sleep Hygiene Strategies.
- Within one hour of going to sleep, use candle light. It is by far the best form of light prior to sleeping (and pretty romantic). You should also avoid high light sources such as computers, television, iPads, cell phones, etc.
- Do not perform many activities that involve you thinking too hard. Your body needs to decrease all brain activity in order to fall asleep.
- Your workouts should not be within 2 hours of falling asleep. Your body also needs time to reduce its temperature.
- Make sure there is some form of blanket for the middle of the night. Your body continues to decrease its temperature while you sleep.
- If you do not fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, GET OUT OF BED. The bed literally should only be for sleep and coitus; not reading, watching TV, doing bills, etc.
- Keep a note pad on your nightstand. This will allow you to write down anything that is on your mind. If you have a lot of important things that you cannot stop thinking about, you can write them down and it will be waiting for you in the morning.
I could go into detail about more of these sleep hygiene tips, but I will not in an effort to be brief. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me