Clean Up Your Sleep: The Art of Sleep Hygiene
Episode #5 of the course The science of sleep: learn how to improve your sleep by Somni
Today we will show you how to clean up your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the habits and practices conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis. On your path to better sleep, understanding what factors around you can aid in or detract from your sleep quality each night is key to optimizing the time spent with your head on the pillow.
While each individual’s struggle with sleep is unique and specific, we know from examining scientific data and talking to hundreds of users what principles can be used to help you see an immediate improvement in your sleep in just a few short days.
Just like other habits, the habit of good sleep hygiene can be learned. Sound like a difficult task? Don’t worry. Getting on the path to better sleep hygiene is a matter of taking small steps in the right direction each day. You’d be surprised at how all those habits can add up in a big way over time.
Here are some examples of new sleep hygiene habits:
● Eliminate the use of cell phones, tablets, or other electronic devices 25 minutes before bed. Blue light is a powerful brain stimulant and suppressor of melatonin release. Light from computers and phones is known to increase the time it takes to doze off and further compromise sleep quality by suppressing melatonin production. Melatonin is a powerful player inside the body; it’s the hormone responsible for helping you get and stay asleep.
● Lower the temperature. During sleep, the body temperature drops gradually throughout the night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees for a sleep environment and says that sleep is actually disrupted when the temperature rises above 75 degrees or falls below 54.
● Minimize caffeine consumption after 11 a.m. Most coffee drinkers are unaware that their cup of coffee will remain in their bloodstream for 24 hours.
● Light exposure in the morning is key! Light is the most powerful external stimulus to the brain for setting our daily hormonal rhythms. Immediately upon waking, open your blinds, get outside, or leave the sunglasses at home. This will signal to your brain that the day has begun and that your body should follow suit in its hormonal cycles.
● Exercise, exercise, exercise! Studies have found that those who exercise regularly are more likely to get to sleep faster. Get 30 minutes of exercise in during the day.
● Meditation may be more useful than you thought. Using meditation to calm the mind can be a powerful tool to help you fall asleep faster. Try meditating 10 minutes each day. We recommend an app called Headspace.
● Eating plays a larger role than you’d think. Be sure to finish eating 2-3 hours before bedtime. If you must eat, try tart cherries, nuts, or fish for a bedtime snack, as they contain melatonin and tryptophan, powerful sleep promoters.
What You Can Do to Improve Your Sleep
1. If you’re new to sleep hygiene, start by picking one easy sleep hygiene behavior that takes less than 30 seconds to complete.
2. After completing one of the new habits, reward yourself with some positive emotion! Say to yourself “I’m awesome!” or do a little victory dance!
3. Experiment with different sleep hygiene habits and how they might help you.
Tomorrow, we will show you how to use sleep to improve your cognitive performance for better memory, creativity, and ability to learn new things.
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