Highlighting the Importance of Sleep Hygiene
National Sleep Awareness Week is March 11-17, the National Sleep Foundation’s annual event promoting sleep health. A decent night of rest is essential for feeling rested and refreshed. Achieving a great sleep starts with setting yourself up for success through proper sleep hygiene. We spoke with Deborah Haring, sleep technician at the Sleep Center at Bailey Medical Center, about sleep hygiene and how you can create an environment conducive to sleep.
“Sleep hygiene can greatly improve an individual’s sleep patterns,” stated Haring. “An environment that is dark, cool and quiet is the best kind you can create for yourself. Keeping your bedroom at a consistent temperature and making it as dark as possible will allow you better sleep. Light, noise and extreme temperatures in the bedroom will cause you to have a difficult time achieving and maintaining sleep. Before you get ready to go to bed, remove all cell phones, tablets and computers out of the bedroom. If you keep these nearby, you will be tempted to browse the Internet or social media, making it harder for you to fall asleep. Use the bed only for sex and sleep.”
As far as naps go, Haring recommends skipping.
“It’s important to maintain a regular wake time, even on your days off,” said Haring. “If you stay on a schedule, your body will know when to sleep and when to wake. Avoid napping during the day if at all possible because it will throw off your sleep schedule. If you do take a nap, don’t allow it last any longer than an hour, and make sure it’s over before 3 p.m.”
When it comes to eating and drinking, the rules vary. “A light snack before bedtime can sometimes promote sleep, but always avoid large meals,” stated Haring. “Loading up on a heavy meal will only make it more difficult to fall asleep. If you need a snack, reach for things like fruits, vegetables, a light sandwich, turkey or milk. Stay away from nicotine, alcohol and caffeine at least four to six hours prior to bedtime. These are stimulants that will keep you awake and cause your sleep to become very fragmented. Chocolate contains caffeine, so if you have a sweet tooth before bed, don’t reach for the chocolate. The biggest culprit for those who don’t smoke is caffeine and alcohol. It’s not that you can’t have it, it’s that you need to allow your body time to get it out of your system before bedtime.”
Certain types of exercise can also disrupt your sleep pattern. “Regular exercise is great, but avoid strenuous exercise about four hours prior to bedtime,” said Haring. “The reason for that is it stimulates you to stay awake longer making it more difficult to wind down for sleep. The best time for a workout is mid-afternoon.”
For consistent sleep, Haring cannot stress enough the importance of a proper sleep environment. “That dark, cool and quiet environment is so imperative,” stated Haring. “Any sleep expert will tell you that if you aim for this environment, you will be setting yourself up for a successful night of sleep.”
For information about the Sleep Center at Bailey Medical Center, please call 918-376-8080.