Sleep Hygiene: Practices for Consistent, Restorative Sleep & More

Sleep Hygiene: Practices for Consistent, Restorative Sleep & More

Sleep Hygiene: Practices for Consistent, Restorative Sleep


Essential Sleep Hygiene Techniques:

Consistent Bedtime and Routine: Maintain a regular bedtime schedule and establish a consistent nightly routine.

Morning Wake-Up and Light Management: Rise promptly in the morning and consider blackout blinds if street lights or early morning light disrupt sleep.

If it’s been a hot day and you’re fortunate enough to have air-conditioning, begin cooling the room down after sunset as you begin to wind down. Cooler temperatures in the evening help prepare the mind for sleep

Regular Sleeping Schedule and Cycles: Strive for a consistent sleep schedule. Studies have shown you’ll get higher quality sleep going to bed earlier and waking up earlier vs the alternatives.

Stimulants and Exercise: Avoid stimulants after morning hours and incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine. The importance of exercise and quality of sleep cannot be overstated. 

Diet and Digestion: Refrain from heavy or rich foods, fried meals, and citrus fruits close to bedtime to prevent indigestion.

Natural Light Exposure: Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day to regulate the body's day/night cycle and support melatonin/circadian rhythm.

Reduced Blue Light Exposure: Minimise exposure to blue light from screens at least an hour before bedtime. You can often find blue light filters already installed on your phone to come on after sunset. Third party apps also offer this on all devices. Google search: “blue light filter app for *device*”

Exclusive Use of Bed for Sleep: Reserve the bed solely for sleep purposes to strengthen the association between bed and rest.

Wind-Down Routine:

A pre-bedtime routine is crucial. For instance, beginning at 8:30 PM, engage in activities such as making the bed, turning on the AC or opening the bedroom window for a cooler room temperature, brushing teeth, and engaging in a productive journaling method.

You could then listen to relaxing sounds. White noise is the most common and may even be helping you without you knowing it. For example the sound of a fan, or white noise found on YouTube. Brown noise is generally deeper and more focused on natural sounds. For example rain, thunderstorms, waterfalls or even the sound of your shower running (an added benefit to showering in the evening, perhaps). Pink noise is generally less deep than brown, but still has natural themes. For example waves crashing on the beach, rustling of leaves, and again rainfall. White, brown and pink noise can help with sleep onset.

Try a few from Toutube or on apps for your phone. Just make sure you won’t be interrupted by ads, that will for sure disrupt the experience. Other sounds that work well for people are ambient sounds at specific frequencies. For example 432 hz and 528 hz ambient sounds promote relaxation and may aid in a deeper sleep.


Light Therapy:

Light therapy, particularly in the morning, has significantly impacted the maintenance of a consistent sleep schedule. In the morning, it's beneficial to immerse yourself in the light of the day. This is another reason why walking to work (or part way to work, if you decide to park 15 mins walking distance away) will help both energy levels during the day and for sleep onset later in the evening. 


General Insights and Recommendations:

Vitamin Deficiencies and Allergens:

This will vary from person to person. But a single tree in your yard could be causing breathing issues for you that reduce the quality of your sleep. If you suspect you have allergies, talk to your doctor about nasal sprays that might help, or allergen testing. Blood tests will help reveal any anomalies that could be causing reduced sleep quality. Vitamins such as Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Magnesium and Iron-rich foods (like spinach, lentils, red meat) can improve sleep quality, especially for those with anaemia.

Managing Acid Reflux:

Avoid trigger foods like spicy or acidic items, chocolate, caffeine, and fatty foods that can worsen acid reflux. Elevate the Head of the Bed: Elevating your upper body slightly with pillows or raising the head of the bed can help prevent acid reflux during sleep. Medication: Over-the-counter antacids or prescribed medications can provide relief. Consult a doctor for appropriate medication.


Poor Blood Circulation, Low Blood-Sugar and Dietary Considerations: 

Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity to improve circulation. Simple activities like walking or cycling can help.

If you have low blood sugar: 

This can drop further as you sleep and decrease sleep efficacy. Healthy fats and dairy products can help keep blood sugar levels stable - this should be discussed with your doctor or nutritionist. Leg Elevation: Elevate your legs while resting to aid blood flow. Use pillows to keep your legs slightly elevated during sleep. Or, you can put some bricks under the foot end of your bed and use gravity to help with blood circulation. Compression Stockings: Consider wearing compression stockings to promote circulation, especially if you have circulation issues in the legs. This should be discussed with your doctor. Avoid Tight Clothing: Tight clothing, especially around the waist or legs, can impede blood flow. Wear loose, comfortable sleepwear.


    Supplements and Alternative Therapies:

    Supplements such as magnesium citrate, or magnesium threonate has been found to improve sleep depth. There are others out there that may work for some and not for others. Others you can look into are: melatonin, Pharma GABA, L-theanine, valerian root and chamomile.

    Mindfulness practices' are highly effective in improving how you feel and sleep. It could be as simple as relaxing in a hot-tub, meditation, journaling, or interacting with mindfulness apps such as Calm or The Balance App. 

      Final notes:

      Complex, chronic or acute periods of poor sleep quality should be assessed with your GP or an experienced sleep coach. Many GPs might suggest melatonin as a first port of call, and then sleeping pills such as lorazepam or zopiclone. While there is something to say for each, in the long run it can make your sleep worse. Sleep hygiene is a better place to start and much better for your brain in terms of establishing lasting routines that will help your sleep and energy levels for the long run.



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