Z is for Zzz – Sleep Hygiene

Most teens would say their dream job is sleeping, yet they try and stay awake throughout the night. Eh, what’s all that about?

Sleep is a vital component of self-care, ahead of diet and exercise. The benefits of good sleep include reduced stress, improved focus, memory and health. To make sure you consistently sleep well, sleep hygiene is key!

What is sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is nothing to do with personal hygiene. Instead, it is about putting yourself in the best possible position to sleep well each night. So, this includes a pre-sleep routine, forming habits, the environment you sleep in and developing a sleep schedule. This will all contribute towards you being able to sleep consistently and without disruptions. 

So, how do I improve my sleep hygiene?

Normalise your sleep schedule

It’s important to create a sleep schedule to maintain your body’s internal clock. This will help you to fall asleep more easily and wake up feeling more refreshed each day.

You can set your body clock up by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Yes, every single day, so this includes weekends too! Most people need between 7-10 hours of sleep per night, so factor this in when creating your sleep schedule. Identify when you need to wake up for school or work, and then work back to find out when you should fall asleep each night. If you don’t get enough sleep each day, you will start running on empty and fall into sleep debt. This will negatively affect your productivity, focus as well as your health.

#MiloSays How much sleep should I get each night? The average person needs between 7-10 hours sleep per night in order to be effective the next day.

Create a pre-sleep routine

What you do before you sleep can affect how easily you fall asleep. So, create a nightly bedtime routine to make your sleep more consistent. 

You can do this by following the same steps each night to trigger your mind that it is bedtime, and you will start to feel more tired. This can include the order you put your pyjamas on, have a wash, do your evening stretches, brush your teeth and dim your lights. 

The 30 minutes before you sleep is incredibly important as you need to wind down before you sleep. Utilise this time to do an activity that relaxes you and keeps you calm. This might include meditation, stretching, reading or listening to soft music. During these 30 minutes, make sure you have dimmed your lights, as bright lights will keep you awake. 

Avoid these things before you sleep

Here are some tips to improve your sleep hygiene. Daily habits will affect how well you sleep, and it can help limit sleep disruptions.

  • Avoid Eating and drinking two to three hours before you sleep. Going to bed on a full stomach will lead to disturbed sleep because you are still digesting your food. Consuming lots of fluids…well, you can guess what will wake you up there! If you need a drink in the evening, drink some water or chose a non-caffeinated tea. 
  • Cut down your consumption of caffeine or sugar in the evening as they are stimulants. It may sound obvious, but stimulants keep you alert. So, you don’t want to be alert when trying to sleep, do you?
  • Switch off your mobile, tablet and laptop devices between 30 – 60 minutes before you sleep; this also includes the television. These devices generate blue light that acts as a stimulant to the brain. Trying to sleep after an exciting episode on Netflix or a conversation with a friend will activate the mind and prevent you from falling asleep easily.
  • Avoid any negative rubbish before you sleep. This is probably a good idea all day long, but specifically before you sleep. If you fill your mind with something negative before you sleep, you won’t be in the right frame of mind to switch off. So, avoid looking at social media, the news, triggering videos or conflict during the hour before your sleep.
  • Use your bed only for sleeping. This might sound strange, but you need to associate your bed with sleep to help you switch off and get a better night’s sleep. If you use your bed to do daily tasks, your mind will no longer associate your bed with only sleeping. 

Create a good sleep environment

The environment you are in will impact how well you will sleep. Make sure your bedroom is a sanctuary that is dark, cool, quiet and comfortable. Everyone has a preference when it comes to mattresses and bedding. So, if you find yours uncomfortable, you might need to find ones that suit your preference better.

If you do not have blackout blinds, you can use an eye mask instead to block out the light. Earplugs are also very useful if you are in a noisy environment and want to block it out. If you are sensitive to smell, a calming scent like lavender, can help calm you down to prepare for sleep.

Tips for waking up in the morning

If you stick to your sleep schedule, you should find it easier to wake up in the morning. Your body clock should help wake you up naturally at your fixed wake-up time. However, for those days you have not stuck to the schedule or are adapting to an adjusted schedule, you might find it harder to get out of bed in the morning.

Here’s a great tip to avoid hitting the snooze button and making yourself late. When you set your alarm, place the alarm clock across the other side of the room. This means you have to get out of bed to turn it off. So, now you are up, stay up and get ready for the day. 

Once awake, drink a large glass of water and eat a wholesome breakfast to fuel you for the day. Check out the ‘N is for Nutrition‘ blog for more advice about starting your day with a healthy breakfast. 

Sleep is essential to help maintain your brain function and physical health. So, start feeling refreshed each day by sticking to your sleep routine and getting enough sleep each night!

Milo says, “Screen time affects dream time!” You can read more in our chapter Z is for ZZZ from the ‘Don’t Get Your Neck Tattooed’ book, available in our shop.

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