Sleep hygiene: is your sleep dirty?

Photo by Mitchell Griest on Unsplash

In my previous article, how to fill our days, I mentioned, rather sarcastically, that we should all denounce the Busyness Olympics, and instead brag about the glorious 7 to 8 hours of sleep we get each night.

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Unless there is a legitimate reason for an individual to sacrifice sleep, such as working long hours, running multiple side projects, and/or other important obligations and responsibilities, everyone should aim to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, or whatever amount of sleep one needs to avoid to operating on sleep deficiency.

Sleep deficiency is no joke. So much so that it is one of the very few of our biological needs that science seems to be in agreement on— getting enough sleep is vital for our overall health and well-being.

Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It can also improve our productivity and overall quality of life.

Just hearing the word insomnia fills me with so much dread and uneasiness. It is a reminder of nights spent turning and tossing in bed for hours, being overwhelmed with thoughts that served no purpose besides making me anxious, and waking up feeling unrested.

My genuine dislike for forcing myself to sleep has led me to take my sleep hygiene more serious than I would otherwise.

I believe that there is almost no better feeling than falling into blissful sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow. If you have never had the pleasure of experiencing such a feeling, routinely, then that should be enough motivation to get your sleep schedule in order.

READ: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

While my sleep hygiene isn’t as perfect as I would like it to be, I still manage to regularly clock in 7 to 8 hours of sleep almost every night.

However, I still do things that compromise the quality of my sleep, such as, consuming too much caffeine throughout the day, bringing my phone to bed with me, and not following a regular sleep schedule.

Currently, my main struggle has been bringing my phone to bed or putting it within reach, then, inevitably, just a quick check for text messages turns into hours of internet browsing.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.

The fact that there is a national body dedicated to sleep should make it evident how important a good night sleep is. The Foundation also has great tips to help individuals improve their sleep hygiene.

When I was able to experience the blissful sleep routine I mentioned earlier, I implemented the following routines and rituals into my day that I hope I will get back on very soon.

Followed a strict sleep schedule. I woke up at 7:00am and was in bed by 10:00pm almost every day. The days I slept in, I paid for it by tossing and turning in bed unable to fall asleep at night.

Put all electronics away from reach. I used my phone as an alarm clock but would put it by a dresser at the end of my bed. I only brought books to bed, which was very helpful in easing me to sleep. One of my favourite books to read was A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.

Exercised regularly. The days I worked out, I found myself falling asleep much easier and quicker. Physical exhaustion is always a good idea to help you fall asleep easier.

Established an enjoyable bedtime routine. I had a regular nighttime routine that included tidying up my space, planning the next day in my planner, followed by a long relaxing shower, and reading a book with a cup of tea. Cliché, but it works. To this day, if I shower, my body thinks it’s time for bed.

A regular nightly routine helps the body recognize that it is bedtime. This could include taking warm shower or bath, reading a book, or light stretches. When possible, avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before attempting to sleep.

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