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The quality of your sleep is directly associated with your daily routine. Your natural sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference to the quality of your nightly rest. Therefore, it is essential to adopt lifestyle changes and inculcate habits conducive to a sound sleep in your daily routine. These habits and practices necessary for a good rest are referred to as sleep hygiene.
Many things can be done to improve sleep. Below is a set of guidelines, carefully curated by our sleep specialists, to help you follow good sleep hygiene
1. Fix a bedtime and waking time - Going to bed on time is one of the most important strategies for achieving good sleep. Sticking to a consistent sleep-wake schedule helps set your body’s internal clock and optimise the quality of your sleep. Start by setting a realistic bedtime that will work with your lifestyle. Choose a time when you usually feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn.
2. Switch off the light - If you are sleeping in the dark, your brain secretes more melatonin hormone, which makes you sleepy. Melatonin is a hormone that controls sleep and is regulated by light. Avoid all light when you're preparing to sleep.
3. Refrain from using electronics before sleep - All night time light interferes with your sleep, but the blue light emitted by electronics is extraordinarily disruptive. This includes the screen on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV. You can minimise the impact by keeping away from these devices during bedtime.
4. Focus on exercise - Regular exercise increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Exercise speeds up your metabolic rate, raises body temperature, and stimulates activating hormones such as cortisol thereby improving sleep quality.
5. Avoid exercising later in the evening - Exercising too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep. Try to finish moderate to vigorous workouts at least 3 hours before your bedtime. If you’re still experiencing sleep difficulties, move your workouts even earlier. For some people, it could take up to 6 hours for the body to sufficiently cool down after exercise to a temperature conducive to sleep.
6. Eat an early and light dinner - Your daytime eating habits play a crucial role in natural sleep. It is advisable to have dinner early in the evening and avoid heavy, fatty foods within two hours of bed. This is because heavy foods require more work by your body to digest and tend you keep you up at night. They also cause stomach trouble and heartburn, potentially leading to nightly discomfort.
7. Avoid Alcohol 4-6 hours prior to bedtime - It is a common misconception that alcohol can help one sleep since alcohol has an immediate sleep-inducing effect. However, in reality, a few hours after consumption of alcohol, when its levels in your blood begin to fall, there is a stimulant or wake-up effect.
8. Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bed - Caffeine, as a stimulant, has the tendency to keep you alert and awake, which isn’t the state you aim for when trying to sleep. The effects of caffeine usually last for about 4-6 hours. Therefore, you should stop consumption of caffeine in any for 6 hours prior to your sleep time. Caffeine is found in coffee, soda, iced tea, chocolate, and various over-the-counter
9. Maintain a calm environment in your bedroom - A peaceful bedtime atmosphere is favourable for a restful sleep. Block out all distracting noises and external disturbances when trying to sleep. If your bedroom is too cold or too hot, it may hinder your sleep. Ensure your bedroom is cool (not cold) and well ventilated.
10. Use comfortable bedding – Sometimes, inadvertently, the cause of your poor sleep can be as simple as an uncomfortable pillow or mattress. It is important to choose bedding appropriate for your physical condition, keeping in mind any specific medical conditions or comfort preferences that you may have.
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