6-steps: How to practice good sleep hygiene

How do we practice good sleep hygiene? What is food for good sleep? How can we sleep better with anxiety? How can you sleep when you can’t?

We sleep a huge 33% less than people did 100 years ago, with this sleep decreasing, there has been an increase in chronic and mental health issues.

So how do we help our sleep? All problems raised can be helped with good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene can be defined as a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. These are the top 6 tips on how to practice good sleep hygiene to get both the quality and quantity of sleep you need.

1. Managing Stress to help sleep hygiene

Practicing meditation. Reading calming books. Spending more time outdoors in nature. Exercising. Socialising with people you enjoy being around. Playing an instrument or creating art/products (creativity). Using essential oils. Practising yoga, deep breathing exercises or stretching.

2. Avoid Blue Light at Night

Instead of reaching for your phone, computer, tablet or watching TV, do something calmer that doesn’t involve exposure to “blue light.”, when managing your sleep plan. Bright screens on electronic devices can lead to alertness due to changes in your eyes and brain. Try reading, meditating or herbal teas.

3. Increase Exposure to Natural Light

Most living organisms have an internal 24-hour clock, a “circadian rhythm.” Helping them regulate a balance between wakefulness hours versus those spent resting. Exposure to natural light is vital for the brain cells that are responsible for the circadian rhythm. Also, levels of the hormone melatonin rise and fall depending on light exposure, they peak during the night when it’s dark around 3-4am in order to aid sleep. Any time spent outdoors during the daytime helps regulate your rhythm, plus it will increase your natural production of vitamin D. At night, try making your room very dark and reduce all artificial light exposure to sleep more soundly.

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4. Exercise and sleep hygiene

Daily exercise for at least 30–60 minutes, especially if outdoors, is one of the best ways to promote better sleep. However, it is worth noting that some people find exercising at night close to bedtime can lead to increased alertness and trouble sleeping. Try and choose an exercise and time that is enjoyable and allows you stay consistent, rather than dreading it!​

5. Creating a sleep plan with a bedtime routine

Your body craves a predictable routine. So ideally, going to bed at roughly the same time every night and waking up close to the same time.

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6. Food for good sleep hygiene

Foods that can aid in helping you to fall asleep include: veggies, grass-fed beef, flaxseeds, chia seeds, wild-caught salmon, raw dairy and whole grains.​

Try not to eat foods high in simple carbohydrates (bread, crisps) or sugar after dinner. If you need a snack after dinner, make one with foods that will help stabilise your blood sugar rather than spike it. Examples include complex carbohydrates like nuts, seeds, veggies or a source of protein like some frozen unsweetened yoghurt. Be sure to skip any caffeine after 2–3 p.m., as sources like coffee, can have lingering effects for hours. For extra help, a natural sleep supplement with well-balanced ingredients can aid muscle relaxation, reduce anxiety and inflammation.

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