Sleep hygiene is an important daily task that everyone should consider as vital to overall well-being. Not taking care of our sleep hygiene can be seriously damaging to our health and here are just some of the reasons why:
- Motor Vehicle/Workplace accidents
Recent surveys have linked driver fatigue to 16% to 20% of serious highway accidents in the UK, Australia, and Brazil. Studies on sleep from Harvard University have shown how sleep loss, and even poor-quality sleep, can lead to an increase in errors at the workplace, decreased productivity, and accidents that cost both lives and resources.
- Development of Depression/Anxiety and Mood changes
Insomnia has been linked with a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. Recently a sleep and mood study showed those who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a significant improvement in mood.
- Weight Gain
Less than 5 and half hours of sleep a night makes it harder to lose weight as poor sleep hygiene can cause a lower metabolic rate.
- Chronic disease
Sleep deprivation has been associated with Heart Disease, Diabetes, Obesity, Alcoholism, plus much more.
- Decreased Life Expectancy
Considering the many potential adverse health effects of insufficient sleep, it is not surprising that poor sleep hygiene is associated with lower life expectancy.
What can be done to improve your Sleep Hygiene?
- Environment: Make sure you have a quiet, darkened room with no light sources. The ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep is roughly 18C. If you are unable to control the noise or brightness of your room then earplugs and an eye mask are easy things to try.
- Sleep Routine: Set a regular bedtime and wakeup time that is the same every day. It is important to get into sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Bedtime Routine: Creating a set of habits to run through at night as this will help your body recognize that it’s time to unwind. Some ideas are 30 to 60 minutes before bed, read a book, take a warm shower or bath or write in your journal. Any activity that is not alerting can comprise part of this nightly routine.
- Avoid ingesting: caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, energy drinks or any stimulus and food/fluid ingestion leading up to sleep.
- Avoid using: using computers, tablets, phones and televisions. Blue light from these devices affects the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. This, in turn, has a greater effect on phase shifting of your circadian clock. If you need to use your laptop late at night, you can download a program called f.lux which changes the light settings to display less blue light.
- Exercise regularly: Physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Exercise also helps with prevention and management of chronic disease, reduces stress, gives you more energy and helps control your mood.
- Get a massage: Massage has been shown to potentially improve sleep and lead to relaxation.
- Get your stress under control: Meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing exercises have been shown to help manage stress levels.
- Napping: Try to avoid napping throughout the day, and if you cannot avoid taking a nap keep it to 30 minutes and aim for earlier in the day.
- Supplements: Magnesium supplements have been shown to improve insomnia and sleep efficiency. Magnesium is a vital mineral that is involved in over 300 different processes of the body. It helps as a muscle relaxant, improves immune system health, regulates the blood pressure, and promotes the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, try to follow the below infographic instructions to get back to sleep.