Proper sleep hygiene is an important part of a healthy lifestyle; it can benefit your weight, strengthen your mind and reduce stress levels.
The first official day of daylight saving time was on Sunday, and some people I know are still feeling its effects.
Did you know that the first Monday after daylight saving time is actually a health risk? Car accidents increase because of grogginess and impaired perception, and heart attacks are also more common the day after you’ve sprung forward.
Sleep is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle and a definite component of successful aging. There are so many important bodily processes that take place during sleep, from filing memories to cell growth and regeneration, that getting the most from it is essential to overall health.
Daylight saving time really helps point this out. Even as I write this, I’m not quite feeling myself—and I do everything I can to make sure I get a good night’s sleep. I went to bed an hour earlier on Saturday and Sunday to account for the time change, but even that hasn’t made a big difference.
Because of the time change, this is a great time of the year to re-evaluate your sleep habits to ensure you’re getting the quality rest you deserve. Sleep hygiene is a term describing the things you can do to improve sleep. It’s a way to take care of yourself, battle insomnia, and reduce stress. It can help you get good quality sleep every night, which will translate to more productive, and ultimately safer, days.
Tips to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
1. Set a schedule: When you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, you’re doing a better job to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Altering your hours—like sleeping in on weekends—is associated with a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.
2. Develop a pre-sleep ritual: This can send signals to your body, telling it that it’s time to shut down. Dim the lights, turn off the television and other devices, take a bath or a shower, or read a book or magazine. This relaxation time prepares your mind and body for sleep by removing the forms of stimulation that impair slumber. Begin this ritual 45 to 60 minutes before bed.
3. Avoid alcohol and screens: Try to avoid alcohol in the evenings because it can impair sleep quite heavily. Although it might make you relaxed and drowsy, it’s not a sleep aid and it inhibits the ability to get high-quality deep sleep. Looking at screens from televisions, tablets, and smartphones can send signals to your brain, telling it to stay awake, so leave them alone before bed, too.
4. Get up if you can’t sleep: If you’ve been lying in bed for 20 minutes tossing and turning, get back up and continue reading or relaxing. Staying in bed can lead to more tossing and turning and disrupted sleep.
By starting good sleep hygiene now, you might be able to limit the impact the next time daylight saving time rolls around.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Wong, P., “Social jetlag, chronotype, and cardiometabolic risk,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, November 19, 2015; http://press.endocrine.org/doi/10.1210/jc.2015-2923.
Hawthorne, M., “Why you shouldn’t sleep late on weekends,” USA Today web site, November 22, 2015; http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2015/11/22/why-you-shouldnt-sleep-late-weekends/76217048/.
Tartakovsky, M., “12 Ways to shut off your brain before bedtime,” Psych Central web site, October 20, 2015; http://psychcentral.com/lib/12-ways-to-shut-off-your-brain-before-bedtime/.