Sleep Hygiene

 

Sleep has been proven to have various health benefits. These benefits include both physical and mental functions. For example, sleeping well helps in conserving our body’s energy, memory functions, and emotional regulation. These are only a few of the many benefits that current scientific investigations have been able to reveal so far. There is a lot more that science is attempting to understand about this phenomenon.

Like any drive, sleep also has to be balanced in order to achieve the maximum benefits from it. This attempt to set certain healthy guidelines for sleep regulation is the essence of sleep hygiene. Just like any hygiene protocol, sleep hygiene requires consistent efforts in application and obtaining best results.

The following guidelines are the basis of maintaining optimum sleep hygiene:

  • Maintaining a bed time: The most fundamental step in sleep hygiene is to set regular bed time and waking up. Common mistakes made include staying up all odd hours on most weekdays and staying in bed most of the weekend days. This characterizes sleep deprivation and often leaves an individual tired and dull during majority of the time most days

 

  • Avoid day time napping: Sleeping during the day for longer than a few minutes can disturb our sleep cycle for the night. Thus, with the exception of elderly individuals or medical patients, it is highly advisable to keep a check on such a habit.

 

  • Maintain portion size during dinner time: Try to avoid eating a heavy or very light meal because of their potential interference in getting sound sleep.

 

  • Engage in physical exercise: Maintaining a fitness routine and regular exercise are assets to maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. However, late evening exercising can be a disturbance for a healthy night time sleep.

 

  • Regulate caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and other substances: Keeping a close check on the amount of substances consumed can be highly beneficial for getting into a healthy sleep routine. Thus, consumption of caffeine, alcohol, etc, should be minimized within 8 hours of bedtime

 

  • Avoid emotional or psychologically taxing topics before bedtime: Thinking or talking about bothersome or anxiety inducing or upsetting subjects around bedtime can keep one awake during bedtime hours. This leaves a person feeling tired or groggy in the morning. 

 

  • Setting the ambience of the bedroom: Let the bedroom environment be comfortable. This environment should help one feel relaxed. Thus, maintain an optimum temperature (preferably cooler than being warm). In addition, limit the use of your bed to sleep and sex. Using the bed for other activities such as studying, eating, watching tv, etc., can make one associate these activities to the bed instead of sleep.

 

Good sleep habits translate into health benefits over time. Thus, such habits bolster the functions of our body.

 

 

References:

· Mendelson, W. (2005). Sleep disorders. In Sadock, B.J. & Sadock, V.A. (Eds.), Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry (pp. 2023-2035). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

·         St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services. (n.d.). Sleep hygiene [Brochure]. Dublin;Ireland:  Author. 

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