Optimizing Sleep

Sleep is a basic human need, just like eating, drinking and breathing. Proper sleep is not only important for your physical health, but also for your mental health. This is true for both adults and children. This month we will look at ways to optimize your sleep so you can perform at your best!

Sleep Hygiene

What is it?  Sleep Hygiene is defined as a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have a good night time sleep quality and full daytime alertness.  Sleep hygiene can play a role in migraines and certain pain conditions so it can be an important part of your daily routine. Let’s take a closer look at how to improve sleep.

First, it is important to spend an appropriate amount of time asleep in bed.  Spending too much or too little time impacts your natural wake sleep cycle so it is important to keep a consistent schedule.  Even on weekends! 

Other ways to improve your sleep hygiene:

1)  Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes at the most.  Only nap if you need it as it can be beneficial for alertness.

2) Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.  Try herbal teas instead.

3) If you are consuming alcohol, keep it in moderation as it can help you to fall asleep but inhibits your sleep later in the night as your body starts to process the alcohol.

4) Regular exercise can help with sleep.  Even as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can enhance your sleep experience.  Most people cannot handle strenuous exercise late at night but find what works best for you.

5) Night time food choices are important.  Consuming foods that cause you indigestion or heartburn will impact your quality of sleep.  Keep snacking to a minimum.

6) Ensure you are getting adequate exposure to light during the day.  This is important to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle. 

7) Establish a relaxing bed time routine.  Everyone is different in what they find relaxing but a warm bath, a gentle stretching routine or a good book can help trigger your body into sleep.

8) Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable with a good mattress and pillow.  The room temperature should be between 60 -67 degrees.  A cooler room is healthier for sleep.  Bright lights and lights from devices should be low or off and you should avoid using them right before you try to fall asleep.  Consider leaving phones and iPads outside the bedroom, using blackout blinds for darkness and maybe a white noise machine for a relaxation.

If you regularly feel tired in the daytime, or wake up frequently at night it is important to talk to your medical practitioner as sleeping is a vital part of the foundation for good health and well-being throughout your lifetime.

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