7 good habits to help you get better sleep
Follow these healthy sleep tips for better sleep.
If you have serious insomnia and you’re tired of people telling you to “just count sheep”, perhaps you should pay more attention to your sleep hygiene!
Sleep hygiene refers to a variety of different practices and good sleep habits that are necessary to have a good night’s sleep and full daytime alertness.
Here’s how you can improve your sleep hygiene to finally get a good night’s sleep:
1. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
Keeping a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, maintains the timing of the body’s internal clock. This can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily.
If you’re struggling to keep to a regular schedule, it might help to shift your bedtime gradually.
For example, if you’re sleeping at 1am and want to change your bedtime to 11pm, set an initial goal of sleeping 30 minutes earlier, like at 12.30am. This gives your body time to slowly adjust to your preferred sleeping schedule.
2. Adopt a healthier lifestyle
Healthy eating and an active lifestyle will come handy in your quest for more sleep.
In order to fall asleep more easily, avoid big meals, caffeine, heavy, spicy or sugary foods four to six hours before bedtime. Drinking alcohol too close to your bedtime may also disrupt your sleep.
While alcohol may make you fall asleep more quickly, according to the Health Promotion Board, studies have found that it also causes people to wake up in the middle of the night as our body starts processing the alcohol.
Regular exercise is also believed to improve sleep quality, allowing you to fall asleep faster. While there is no clear explanation by scientists on why it happens, some speculate that it is due to the changes in core body temperature.
Exercising raises the core body temperature. After about 30 to 90 minutes, the temperature would start to fall. The decline could help to facilitate sleepiness.
3. Establish a relaxing pre-sleep routine
Pre-sleep habits include activities like a warm bath, meditation or a few minutes of reading before going to sleep.
Drinking a glass of warm milk before bed may also help you relax and stay asleep. Dairy products contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid, which helps in the production of sleep-inducing brain chemicals such as serotonin and melatonin.
Just before bed, you can also practise deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to relax both your mind and your body, reduce anxiety or muscle tension that may be keeping you awake at night.
4. Do not go to bed unless you are sleepy
If you aren’t sleepy at bedtime, try reading a book, listen to soft music or find something relaxing to take your mind off worries about sleep.
5. Find out what’s keeping you up
If you’re preoccupied with a busy social life or if you have poor scheduling, it might help to learn how to manage your time better. When you prioritise what you need to do, you can have ample time to prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.
One way to start is to check the amount of time you spend on your mobile device or on social media.
Ironically, thinking about why you are awake could be the very reason why you are awake. To avoid this, ensure that you are not “clockwatching”, as that could just stress you out further.
6. Avoid taking naps during the day
If you must take a midday nap, you should keep it within 30 to 45 minutes.
If you nap for too long or too late in the evening, you might feel restless at night. This might cause you to be tired in the morning, which prompts you to take another nap. This endless cycle effectively damages your sleep schedule.
7. Create a sleep-friendly environment
A sleep-friendly environment can be achieved by hanging up dark curtains and using eye-masks or earplugs.
Loud and bright environments might be overstimulating and distracting, preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.