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6 Principles of Sleep: These Guidelines can Relieve Sleep Difficulty

Getting enough sleep is one of the most accessible and least emphasized topics in the health conversation, it is critical and can be a challenge in this busy world.

Sleep is important. Research shows that when we do not get good sleep, we are at risk for a host of problems, ranging from difficulty concentrating to chronic health problems. Millions of Americans have significant sleep problems, and the prevalence of sleep disorders in the United States has been steadily increasing for years.[1]

Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health, improving productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone, from children to older adults, can benefit from better sleep, and sleep hygiene can play a key part in achieving that goal. Now let us try to consider these 6 principles of sleep that will guide you in achieving your sleeping goals.

1. Value the importance of sleep.

The first principle of establishing healthy sleep is that you need to take sleep seriously. You should value sleep as highly as a freshwater supply, good food, and the air that you breathe. Sleep is one of the most important physiological factors that gives us the capability to live our lives. We need to sleep so we can function. Sleep plays a vital role in so many things. Renewal and repair of tissues, metabolism, growth and development of body and mind, ability to fight infection, learning skills, and the ability to control our emotions are some of the things that happen in our bodies and minds all the time.

The quality of our daytime alertness, energy, productivity, and mood are all heavily dependent on sleep. If clean drinking water and sufficient food are crucial to life, so is having enough good quality sleep. So please don’t cut corners where sleep is concerned. It can be damaging to your health in the long term, and that shouldn’t come as any surprise.

2. Sleep is highly remarkable so prioritize your sleep.

This follows from a mindset that takes sleep seriously. Always keep in mind that the purpose of sleep is to deliver health, wellbeing, and the ability to function during the day. A well-rested person is going to be better for everyone. It means that you need to make a decision to put sleep first, or at least higher on the list. It is advised that you listen and be sensitive to your body and your brain if they are telling you that you are tired or sleepy and need to get to bed. At times, this will mean letting go of things that you might want to do, and I know this can be a difficult decision, but little by little, you need to put that into practice. Make sleep your priority by making commitments and setting behavioral goals to achieve that.

3. Sleep thrives on a pattern, so be consistent.

Consistency is always the key. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, you might include weekends as well. Establishing a regular sleep schedule is one of the most effective ways to encourage healthy sleep. You may help your body get into a habit by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. While it may be tempting to stay up late on weekends and sleep in, resist the temptation. Instead, stick to your regular sleeping schedule and you will pay the price in the end. These are the tips that will help you follow a night routine. Keeping your routine consistent by following the same steps or routine every night, like putting on your pajamas and brushing your teeth, can help you reinforce in your mind that it is bedtime.

4. Environmental factors affect sleep so optimize your bedroom.

Beyond behaviors, your sleep environment is an important part of sleep hygiene. Optimize your sleeping environment or sleeping area to make it easier to fall asleep. The ideal sleeping environment is cooler and darker, not too hot or cold, not too bright or dark. Also, don’t be overly loud or silent. Make sure your bedroom is sufficiently ventilated and also that your bed is comfy. While what makes a bedroom inviting can vary from one person to the next, these things may help make it more effective: selecting comfortable mattress and pillows, adjusting the room temperature to your liking, using blackout curtains, listening to “white noise”, and using a diffuser with calming scents.[2]

5. Consider lifestyle factors.

The stimulant properties of caffeine and nicotine delay the start of sleep, so caffeinated drinks are best avoided in the evening. Bear in mind that most e-cigarettes still contain nicotine. Alcohol also disrupts sleep, particularly during the second half of the night, and heavy meals close to bedtime can lead to restless sleep.[3] Another thing is that exercise is a good thing, but it’s best to keep a gap of time to wind-down time before you retire. Being physically active during the day helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Getting some exercise during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed, or work out earlier in the day.

Avoiding smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, cutting down on caffeine in the afternoon and evening, and not dining out late are helpful lifestyle factors that will help you achieve a better sleep.

6. Protect your sleep from tablets and smartphones so turn technology off.

Unplug from electronics or gadgets by building in a 30–60-minute pre-bed buffer time that is device-free. Cell phones, tablets, and laptops cause mental stimulation that is hard to shut off and also generate blue light that may decrease melatonin production. They can trigger you to remain alert as you search for information, engage in social behavior, or play games that hinder you from sleeping. If possible, remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, from the bedroom.[4]

Watching TV in bed or reading on an electronic device can make it hard to fall asleep. The light from these devices tells your brain that it is time to be awake and active rather than asleep. And keeping your cell phone near your bed can interfere with sleep. In addition to the possibility of receiving unwanted texts and calls, easy access to your phone might tempt you to check your email or cause you to worry about work. These things make it hard to relax and fall asleep. So, turn off technology for a good night’s sleep.

Takeaway

The basic concept and principles of sleep hygiene suggest that your environment and habits can be optimized for better sleep. This applies to just about everyone, but what ideal sleep hygiene looks like can vary based on the person. It is then worth testing out and discovering different adjustments to find out what helps your sleep the most. Small steps can move you toward better sleep hygiene.

These basic principles for healthy sleep hygiene are drawn from research. Individuals differ in their health needs and preferences and in which strategies may be most effective for them. Consult your doctor or behavioral health professional for guidance about your sleep health.

References:

  1. 7 Principles for Good Sleep | Department of Psychology. (n.d.). 7 Principles for Good Sleep | Department of Psychology. https://psychology.unl.edu/7-principles-good-sleep.
  2. What Is Sleep Hygiene? | Sleep Foundation. (2009, April 17). Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene.
  3. Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep | Healthy Sleep. (n.d.). Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep | Healthy Sleep. https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips.
  4. CDC – Sleep Hygiene Tips – Sleep and Sleep Disorders. (2016, July 15). CDC – Sleep Hygiene Tips – Sleep and Sleep Disorders. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html.

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