How to improve sleep quality
Lately, it seems like there’s a lot of conversation happening about “sleep hygiene.” When we pay more attention to our mental and physical health, it’s only natural to take a closer look at sleep, as it is so intertwined with our psychological and physical wellbeing. Just as body hygiene is about keeping ourselves clean and healthy, “sleep hygiene” is about establishing habits for better sleep.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control declared insufficient sleep a "public health problem,” as more than one-third of adults in the U.S. say they aren’t getting enough regular sleep. Additionally, the CDC says that drowsiness is to blame in an average of up to 6,000 annual car crashes. Alcohol, stress, and long work hours are just a few of the culprits for this sleep shortage.
While many of these factors are out of our control, there are ways that sleep hygiene can be improved. Below, I'm sharing eight tips for giving your beauty sleep a little T.L.C.
1. Check your activities
Your bedroom should be a sleep sanctuary. It’s not a dining room or living room— it's a place for resetting, relaxing, and recharging. As my internist once said as I was being treated for a bout of insomnia: “The bedroom is for sleep and sex only. Nothing else.” While you’re at it, get rid of the bedroom television.
2. Power down
Turn off when you turn in. We know it’s fun to scroll before bed, but the best thing you can do is avoid technology for an hour or two before hitting the hay. Why? Because screens emit blue light, which restrains melatonin production (aka the hormone that helps you sleep).
3. Limit naps
Nothing throws off your sleep patterns like a long nap, so be sure to keep your daytime snoozing down to 30 minutes or less (set an alarm!). It’s also helpful to avoid sleep late in the afternoon, so be sure not to nap after 3 PM.
4. Keep it consistent
The human body craves consistency. Set aside 7-8 hours each night for sleep and keep bedtime to roughly around the same time every night. If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, leave the room and do something relaxing and screen-free, such as reading a book or listening to soothing music.
5. Work it out
Another win for regular exercise: According to the Sleep Foundation, 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week can help reduce levels of daytime sleepiness. It can also improve concentration when you’re feeling tired.
6. Watch your intake
Feeling peckish before bedtime? Avoid large, heavy meals and keep your snacking healthy. Not going to bed feeling stuffed is essential. Caffeine is an obvious no-no, too. As for alcohol, it might make you feel sleepy, but it can actually disrupt your sleep patterns into the night.
7. Say “om”
Make bedtime a relaxation ritual. Whether this means treating yourself to cozy pajamas, taking a long hot bath, or utilizing lavender extract, there are myriad ways you can de-stress. Meditation can also be a helpful way to calm the body and mind.
8. Stay cool
Keeping your bedroom at a cool temperature can help deepen sleep— especially if you tend to run hot. Plagued by the sleep sweats? Invest in sheets made of 100% natural materials. While most people go for 100% cotton, bamboo sheets can be an excellent option, too. You’ll also want to make sure your mattress pad or liner is polyester-free.
Blair Smith is a lifestyle and beauty writer who currently resides (and will likely stay forever) in Brooklyn, New York.