Sleeping problems, such as insomnia, are often formed after years of bad sleeping habits over the years.
‘Sleep hygiene’ refers to habits that help you improve your sleeping trends so you get a good night sleep and you can dramatically improve your sleep by making a few minor adjustments to lifestyle and attitude.
* Listen to your body: We have inbuilt systems controlling our sleep-wake cycle in the brain and most body processes are synchronised around this 24 hour ‘body clock’. Re-building good sleeping habits start with re-training your body clock and your brain to function properly so the correct hormones are being released at the right time, allowing you to either fall asleep with ease or wake feeling energetic and ready to start your day.
Get up at the same time every day. This will help ‘set’ your body clock and you will find yourself getting tired around the same time at night
Don’t ignore tiredness – go to bed if your body is telling you to
Don’t go to bed if you’re not tired, you will only reinforce bad habits such as lying awake
Get enough early morning sunshine. This exposure to light helps to trigger hormone releases in your brain that set your body clock
Create a comfy environment: Getting good sleep is more likely if your sleeping space is restful and comfortable.
Invest in a proper mattress that provides the right support for you
Make sure the room is dark enough and at the right temperature
Use your bedroom for sleeping and intimacy only. Don’t treat your bedroom like a second lounge room – like watching television in bed or chatting to friends on the phone – as your mind will associate the space with activity and not relax properly when it is bedtime.
Avoid drugs: There are common misconceptions around to the following thinking sleep will be more likely having used them and these include:
Cigarettes: Many smokers claim that cigarettes help them relax, yet nicotine is a stimulant and its side effects include accelerated heart rate and increased blood pressure that are likely to keep you awake for longer.
Alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant drug which slows your nervous system down. Drinking alcohol before bed may help you doze off, but it does disturbs your sleep rhythms and you typically won’t wake feeling refreshed in the mornings. You’re also more likely to wake up to go to the bathroom more frequently and experience dehydration or hangover.
Sleeping pills: The drawback to taking sleeping medication is daytime drowsiness. They also fail to address the cause of your sleeping issues and there is also the rebound effect – where after a stint of using them to fall asleep, it becomes harder to fall asleep without them.
Relax your mind: Insomnia is often caused by stress which results in mind chatter and restlessness.
If you are a chronic bedtime worrier, try to schedule some time, say half an hour of ‘worry time’ before you climb into bed. Once you climb into bed, remind yourself that you’ve already done your ‘worry time’ of the day.
Try some relaxation techniques. There are a variety of techniques that you can try from breathing exercises to mediation or guided meditation to help you relax and wind down.
Other lifestyle adjustments that may help improve sleep include:
Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime and try not to overheat yourself – you need to allow your body time to cool down
Try not to engage in mentally stimulating activities close to bedtime. Use the last hour or so of sleep to relax your mind.
Don’t take afternoon naps
Have a nice warm bath or shower before bed
Turn your alarm clock to the wall, so you don’t watch the minutes tick by which tends to keep you awake.
If you have tried time and time again to improve your sleep without much success, you may want to consider booking in and speaking to one of our practitioners here at Naturally Dynamic Health. We have a variety of different nutritional or herbal options that can help you establish proper sleeping habits.