For most people when it comes to well being we initially think of diet and exercise but sleep habits are also critical to long-term health and behavior-change success. Sleep deficits are very common and are either related to poor sleep quality or not sleeping for long enough each day on a consistent basis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 50 to 70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder. Even though sleep needs differ from person to person, in general adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Number two on our original Five to Thrive list is “wake up earlier”, but we have to also take a look at our overall sleep quality and quantity before making an effort towards that change.
Healthy sleep patterns should be taken into account of every behavior change we are trying to make. When we get the proper quality and quantity of sleep we have enough energy to stay focused and motivated to achieve the goals that we desire to live the life that we deserve.
Some health effects of sleep deficits and disorders include: weight gain, cognitive disorders and dementia, depression and anxiety, overtraining, cardiovascular disease and cardiometabolic disorders, and immune system effects. This list may seem scary, especially if you’re thinking “oh god, I don’t get nearly enough or good quality sleep each night”. Have no fear!! Just like every other behavior change, there is a slew of techniques you can incorporate into your life to help create better sleep patterns.
Sleep hygiene refers to habits that help promote adequate high-quality sleep. Here are a list of different actions you can take into practice to help increase the likelihood of a good nights sleep!
- Create a relaxing environment: Try not to do your work in bed or in your bedroom. Reduce noise and try and create a dark environment, you can always wear an eye mask if your room isn’t dark enough. Monitor the temperature in your room, 60 to 68 degrees seems to be ideal for sound sleep.
- Follow a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time each day. If needed, set an alarm to help remind you when bedtime is.
- Follow a soothing bedtime routine: For 30-60 minutes before bed, seek out relaxing and quite activities to help calm an overactive mind.
- Limit exposure to bright light, especially blue light: Being exposed to blue light can interfere with melatonin production, which is the hormone that makes us sleepy.
- Try to be exposed to natural light early in the day: Bright natural light helps regulate our circadian rhythm.
- Exercise daily: Move your body baby! Your sleep quality will be thanking you later on.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Everyone has different tolerance to caffeine. Some people need to give up caffeine completely or you can try just having caffeine earlier in your day. Alcohol might help you fall asleep quickly but can have a negative impact on your sleep patterns, especially during the second half of sleep. It could influence less deep sleep or more wakefulness, decreasing over-all quality.
- Avoid eating a large meal too close to bedtime: Its important to leave time for digestion to occur to avoid the body needing to work while at sleep and also any discomfort that may be caused by digestion.
When we are creating new habits there will always be barriers to change, especially if we try to take on too much at once. Pick something from this list that is a manageable place for you to begin. Small manageable steps will always serve us better and allow us to create sustainable lifestyle change. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to ask me!! I am in your corner, I am here for you and want you to be better, be healthier and be happier. Change isn’t easy so be patient with yourself and one small setback doesn’t define your capability for long term success, it is simply part of the process and can help us to learn more about ourselves, so embrace it all!