Whenever a person presents with difficulty sleeping, there could be a large number of factors contributing to this: psychological (mental health) issues, environmental issues, physical issues, circadian rhythms (a person’s day/night cycles of approximately 24 hours in length), aging, medications, etc… Recently, I’ve seen several articles on the importance of good sleep hygiene.  Here are some of the side effects of poor sleep habits: irritation, mood fluctuations, decreased immune function, increased stress hormones, lowered metabolism, and imbalances in blood sugar levels.

     Practicing
good sleep hygiene can help you get back on track, and have you feeling
happier, healthier, more balanced, energized,  and better able to
handle stress.
Sleep hygiene is defined as practices, habits, and environmental factors that are important for achieving sound sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed, and revitalized. I’ve summarized several tips to assist with getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

These include:
1. Doing something relaxing before bed, such as taking a bath or listening to soft music.
2. Go to bed at the approximately the same time each night, include ritual such as a few minutes of light reading or a small snack (bananas contain tryptophan the ingredient in turkey that makes you sleepy!). The amino acid L-tryptophan has been shown in research to help people go to sleep.
3. Stay away from protein late at night.
4. Get up at the same time every morning. (even on weekends!)
5. If you are someone who enjoys a daily nap, try to keep it short (approx. 30 minutes), and try to take the nap before 3 pm.
6. Don’t watch TV, or talk on the phone in bed.
7. If you drink caffeine, try to stop doing so by 3 pm each day.
8. Limit alcohol; and try not to have any within 5 hours of bedtime.
9. Avoid spicy, heavy, and sugary foods within 4 – 6 hours of bedtime.
10. Avoid vigorous exercise within 5 hours of bedtime.
11. Avoid taking sleeping pills, or use them cautiously and only as prescribed under a doctor’s care.
12. Practice good stress management throughout the day (i.e. get regular exercise, daily meditation may assist with being able to dispel your worries, or with putting them in perspective).
13. Your bedroom should be dark and a bit cool. (*One article stated that your bedroom should be like a cave…and that bats, who live in caves often sleep up to 16 hours per day!)
14. Use comfortable bedding.
15. Keep your bedroom well ventilated.
16. Keep your bed for sleep and sex. If you can’t sleep, go into another room to read for a few minutes.
17. Do not expose your self to bright light if you need to get up at night. Use a small night-light instead.
18. Does your pet sleep with you? This, too, may cause arousal from either allergies or their movements in the bed. So your dog or cat (or both!), may be better off on the floor than on your sheets.
19. Peri-menopause and insomnia often go hand-in-hand. Learn about the causes of menopausal insomnia, and find out about traditional and alternative treatments. (More on this topic in future issues.)
20.   Many studies suggest that restorative, yoga nidra—a form of
guided relaxation—savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage
pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides much needed
downtime for the nervous system.

Always follow the advice of your physician or healthcare professional.
The goal of good sleep hygiene is to rediscover how to sleep naturally.

Create your health by practicing good “sleep hygiene”.

Chris