Sleep Hygiene

Studies have shown that we should be getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. When we sleep, our body repairs itself through our brain’s glymphatic system which gets rid of cellular debris in the brain. If you are not getting quality and quantity sleep, this does not happen effectively or at all.

Studies have also shown that people that are not getting enough or quality sleep, are at increased risk of chronic disorders such as cardiovascular [dis]ease, stroke, high cholesterol, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity, depression, anxiety, and cancer.

How can you improve the quality and quantity of sleep?

1. Sun Exposure.

Get 10-15 minutes of exposure to the sun between 9-11AM. This helps to reset your circadian rhythm.

2. Last Meal.

Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime & eat high protein and high fat meal for dinner. It takes about 3-4 hours to digest our food. Eating 1-2 hours before bed keeps the body from resting because it is digesting.

3. Last Beverage.

Stop drinking liquids 2 hours before bedtime. Drinking liquids before bed can guarantee you’re getting up to use the bathroom. So if you’re waking up due to frequent urination, try cutting back on the fluids.

4. Avoid Caffeine.

Stop drinking caffeine by 2 PM because it has a half life of 8 hours so you want at least half of it out by the time you go to bed. However, some people should have caffeine before 11AM and others before 2PM to improve the quality of sleep.

5. Avoid alcohol.

Alcohol contrary to belief does not help you sleep. It decreases production of adenosine which prevents deep sleep. One serving of alcohol takes one hour to metabolize. So aim for no alcohol within 3 hours of your bedtime.

6. Electric & Magnetic Fields (EMFs).

Shut off phones, TVs, and electronics at least one hour before bed. Also it’s best to remove TVs and wifi routers from the bedroom to decrease EMFs from disrupting the circadian rhythm.

7. Turn off bright & blue light.

Turn off bright lights and LEDs, and avoid blue light. Use lamps with a warm glow and turn your phones, iPads, and laptops on “night mode”.

8. Maintain sleep pattern.

Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Having a regular sleep schedule helps regulate the fall of cortisol and rise of melatonin at night.

9. Relaxation.

Do something relaxing an hour before going to bed to help you to wind down such as meditation, deep breathing, taking a warm bath, yoga, journaling, reading, or listening to calm music. This too will help cortisol levels to lower at night for those who are stressed in the evening and have high evening cortisol.

If you have any other suggestions for sleep hygiene to improve the quality and quantity of sleep, please share!

Resources:

Dissociable effects of self-reported daily sleep duration on high-level cognitive abilities

Sleeping hours: what is the ideal number and how does age impact this?

Seven to Eight Hours of Sleep a Night Is Associated with a Lower Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome and Reduced Overall Cardiometabolic Risk in Adults

Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society on the Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult