A thought popped into my head as I gradually woke up this morning. I thought, morning sure came faster than I thought it would. I was wrong. Although morning had technically come, it wasn’t my get-up-now time. It was, according to my dimly lit clock only 3:30 a.m.
I could only roll onto my back and stare at the ceiling. Why was I awake at 3:30 a.m?
There’s only one answer: I need to improve my sleep hygiene.
Have you heard that term before? Sleep hygiene refers to a pre-sleep routine. Falling asleep with a computer screen or the television is bad sleep hygiene. That’s the kind of routine that will lead to restless sleep, strange dreams and just too much brain activity.
Good sleep hygiene involves engaging in quiet and relaxing activities in that half hour or so before bed. Our days are stressful, busy and filled with emotion, even if it’s just boredom. All of the physical, mental and emotional residue will stay with us and disrupt our sleep if we don’t release it first.
Every sleep study I’ve ever heard about maintains one simple fact. If we’re to function at our best, we need to let our brains relax completely during sleep. Restful sleep keeps us healthy and happy, increases our energy, and fosters a wonderful feeling of well-being. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that achieving that peaceful state is still a dream. Every day is so busy!
So, after one too many late nights followed by early morning wakings, I decided to take matters into my own hands and figure out how I can have a better sleep each night. What did I find? Well, the truth hurts sometimes. The key really is all about cultivating good sleep hygiene.
Keep A Schedule
Go to sleep every night and get up every morning at about the same time every day. Your body will get used to this schedule, and you’ll find yourself relaxing quickly and sleeping through the night.
Go Ahead, Have A Nap
I used to feel really guilty if I snuck in a nap mid afternoon. I’d look at the clock and wonder if I really have the time to indulge my tiredness given the work piling up on my desk. I may work from home, but having a nap just seemed a little too comfortable. I changed my mind when a friend (who works in a corporate office) admitted to closing her office door some afternoons, slipping under her desk, and giving in to her need for sleep. So, if you need a nap, take it. You’ll be refreshed and at your best again. Just make sure you don’t sleep too long. Fifteen or twenty minutes is the ideal afternoon nap.
We all function according to different rhythms. I’m a consummate morning person. That whole concept of sleeping in on weekends never worked for me. My energy’s highest in the morning, so I go with it. Find your rhythm. What time are your natural sleep and wake-up times. Once you find them, stick with them as much as possible. There will be those evenings when you’d love to slip under the covers right after dinner. Maybe it’s the thought of cleaning up all the dishes. Or maybe all the delicious food you consumed is having that sedative effect on you. Whatever the reason, don’t give in! When you’ve finished dinner, go for a walk. Do something active to push yourself until your natural sleep time rolls around.
Tell me what sleep tips have worked for you?