We probably all know this sequence from the movie Frozen (if not or if you want to refresh your memory, here you go). And we all had nights where we just couldn’t go (back) to sleep because the wheels in our head simply kept turning…
Today is World Sleep Day. It is the 14th annual Sleep Day. There is a different slogan each year. This year’s slogan is Regular Sleep, Healthy Future! Since I am doing a series on sleep here on my blog based on the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, I couldn’t help but express appreciation for this day and our sleep in general. I don’t want to make this long, but let me share 12 popular Tips for healthy sleep with you that many sleep researchers including Matthew Walker, the sleep foundation, NIH Medline Plus and many others have agreed on. I took them from this website.
12 Tips For Healthy Sleep
- Stick to a sleep schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including on weekends. Consistency provides the greatest possibility of healthy sleep. This is the most important tip.
- Exercise, but no later than 2-3 hours before bedtime
Thirty minutes per day is recommended for good physical health, but too much activity too close to bedtime disrupts a normal sleep cycle.
- Avoid caffeine
Be mindful of your intake of coffee, tea, soda and nicotine. As a stimulant, caffeine and nicotine can take as long as eight hours to eliminate effects. Nicotine contributes to lighter sleeping patterns by preventing sufficient REM sleep.
- Avoid alcohol before bed
Heavy use of alcohol robs us of REM sleep. Remaining in lighter stages of sleep eliminates the health benefits of deeper sleep. Heavy alcohol impairs breathing, as well. Those individuals with disordered breathing patterns will be at even greater health risk.
- Avoid large meals and beverages at night
The indigestion that occurs from late-night snacking affects sleep. Frequent need for urination also disrupts sound sleep.
- Avoid medications that delay or disrupt sleep
Some commonly prescribed heart, blood pressure and asthma medications affect sleep patterns. It is wise to discuss alternative medications with your physician or pharmacist to aide in the insomnia produced. Is it possible to take these medications in a lower dose or a different time of day?
- Do not take a naps after 3 p.m.
Naps are helpful for re-energizing our bodies. They can make up for lost sleep. But a nap too late in the day can make it difficult to fall asleep at night, as it disrupts our circadian rhythm.
- Relax before bed
Do not overschedule your day so there is no time to unwind in the evening. Reading a book, listening to relaxing music or attending to a relaxing activity should be a daily sleep ritual.
- Take a hot bath before bed
The drop in body temperature that occurs following this activity will help make you sleepy. The relaxing water will slow you down and get your body ready for sleep.
- Create a dark, cool, gadget-free room for sleep
Eliminate anything in your bedroom that will distract you from sleep (e.g., noises, bright lights, LED lighting, uncomfortable bed, warm room, phones, TVs, computer, etc.). A cool room, comfortable bed and no distraction will promote sleep.
- Have the correct sunlight exposure
Daylight is the key to regulating daily sleep patterns. The rituals at night are important, but getting outside for natural light exposure for at least 30 minutes per day will help maintain our natural sleep clock. If you have trouble sleeping, it is recommended by sleep experts to achieve an hour of morning sun exposure each day and turn down the lights before bedtime.
- Do not lie in bed awake
If you are awake for 20 minutes with difficulty falling asleep, get out of bed. Begin an activity that is relaxing until you are sleepy. Remaining anxious and awake in bed will make it even more difficult to fall asleep.
Alrighty then. Happy World Sleep Day and sound sleep. +++