The first thing to understand about sleep is how it fits in with our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the day-night cycle of about 24 hours that we all posses that greatly influence our sleep quality. As I work with clients, many of which struggle with proper sleep in addition to the central issue they walked into the office with, various factors that influence circadian rhythm present themselves.
With clients I use the term sleep hygiene when discussing proper techniques for aiding in more effective sleep. Below are a few that can quickly produce beneficial results.
Creating a quiet, comfortable environment to sleep in is crucial for quality sleep. Your bed should have comfortable, clean bedding and a cool relaxing temperature in the room. De-cluttering your bedroom can reduce stress levels as well. If sleeping in a room with windows, use proper window treatments that create darkness.
A consistent bedtime routine is important for maintaining circadian rhythm. Engaging in a similar bedtime routine helps to get to bed at a similar time every night. Varying bedtime from weekdays to weekends more than 30 minutes can have a negative effect on the bodyʼs rhythm for falling asleep. When it comes to the hour to hour and a half before your bedtime think consistency and follow similar rituals such as dimming lights, reading or listening to calming music.
3. Device Free
Sleeping environments should be free of devices. Electronics produce what is called blue light. Blue light effects the brainʼs pineal glandʼs ability to produce melatonin, a hormone that reduces alertness. Televisions, phones, laptops, tablet and some lighted clocks produce blue light that interferers with sleep.
Paying closer attention to what one is consuming in the three hours prior to bedtime can assist in producing better sleep. Avoiding all fluids about an hour prior to bedtime can help with reducing bathroom trips during the night. Alcohol should not be consumed in the three hours leading up to bedtime as it interrupts REM cycles. Caffeine and sugars should be greatly cut though out the afternoon and evening hours in order to invite more restful sleep.
5. 20 Minute Rule
Who hasnʼt tossed and turned after crawling into bed for what felt like hours. Most of this tossing and turning only fuels the frustration of not sleeping and worry about how tiresome the next day will be. Keep in mind the 20 minute rule; if after 20 minutes in bed you are not able to fall asleep, get up and do something outside of your bedroom. Daily exercise and limited napping time can greatly reduce the practice of the 20 minute rule.