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Sleep Hygiene

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Sleep Hygiene

Getting a good night’s sleep is arguably the most important factor in how healthy we are. Healthy sleep habits or behaviors you can practice that may help improve your ability to fall asleep and remain asleep through the night is referred to at sleep hygiene. Practicing sleep hygiene throughout the day impacts both the quality and quantity of sleep that you get each night. It also plays a significant role in your physical and mental health.

Preparing Your Body for Sleep

Preparing your body to rest throughout the night is something that doesn’t occur at the very last minute, but throughout much of the day. From the moment that you wake up to the moment you get in bed, you’re unknowingly practice sleep hygiene, and below are some tips on how to make sure your body is prepared every night.

1. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
If applicable, you should try to go to sleep and wake up at about the same times every day — even on weekends. Doing this reinforces your body’s sleep cycle, which can make it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up every day. Additionally, make sure that the bedtime you choose allows for you to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercising on a regular basis does not just improve your physical health, but also your mental health as well. Performing as little as 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day can improve your sleep quality, as well as your overall health. The only caveat with this is to avoid exercising within an hour or two of your bedtime. This can increase your energy levels and body temperature, which may make it harder for you to fall asleep.
3. Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Arguably the worst thing you can do in the evening hours before bed is to consume caffeine. The effects of caffeine can last anywhere from 3 to 7 hours after being consumed. This means that your afternoon cup of coffee may keep you awake and alert a lot longer than you’d like.
The CDC also recommends that you avoid large meals closer to bedtime, as it can lead to broken sleep or potentially sleeping disorders.
4. Create a Comfortable Sleep Space
When falling asleep, comfortability is key. This won’t be the same for everyone as everyone has different preference for how they like to fall asleep. Some like to have a light on while some prefer it to be pitch black. As long as you’re relaxed and comfortable in your setting, that’s what matters most. A cool, dark, quiet room may help you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. For most people, a bedroom temperature between 60°F and 67°F is the optimal temperature for sleeping, but it differs based on personal preference. It’s also important to make sure you have a comfortable mattress, pillows, and bed sheets. The more comfortable you are, the easier it may be to fall asleep and stay asleep.
5. Avoid Napping During the Day
Although it may be difficult to avoid, napping during the day can affect your ability to sleep later in the in evening. If you must take a nap during the day, it’s recommended that you limit the duration to 30 minutes or less and avoid napping within 6 hours of your nightly sleep schedule.

Ditch Your Phone Before Bed

Modern society has a bedtime issue that has arisen within the last two decades. Our smartphones are very much a part of our lives now. We’re on them during the day, whether it be for personal or work-related use, and we use them to relax and unwind during the evening hours and catch up on the latest news. However, using your phone close to bedtime can affect your sleep in a massive way. As we drift off to sleep, we’re naturally supposed to be in a relaxed state of mind. Checking your smartphone keeps your brain alert and engaged. Your mind can stay active long after you’ve scrolled through social media or responded to a few work emails, which in the end will keep you awake longer.

There’s currently no strict data on when exactly you should stop looking at your phone prior to bedtime, but it’s recommended to avoid your devices an hour or two before bed. This doesn’t just apply to smartphones, but also other devices and electronics, such as televisions and computers.

If you feel like you’re struggling with falling or staying asleep at night, it may be time to speak with your Primary Care Provider. Florida Health Care Plans serves our community with an extensive list of local health care providers in the area, including Flagler, Volusia, Seminole, Brevard, and St. Johns Counties.

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