Why You Need a Sleep Hygiene
One complaint that I get every day in my practice from women of all ages has to do with issues in getting a great night’s sleep, but few of them like many of you may not realize that insomnia issues may be directly related to the lack of you having a sleep hygiene. If you are one of these women, you might know that you have issues with getting proper sleep but aren’t sure exactly why.
While women experience sleep disturbances for a variety of reasons stress, poor diet, medical and mental health conditions, other women and perhaps you just might need to do one simple thing – improve your sleep hygiene.
Before we get into what is a sleep hygiene, we first need to discuss some things that can affect your sleep especially as a woman. If you prefer to listen click here.
The Two most common Reasons for Women include: Hormonal disorders and stress.
There is a ton of research that shows that women of all ages can experience dramatic sleep issues when they are dealing with hormonal disorders or hormonal imbalances.
Let’s take a look at how an imbalance in each hormone can do this:
Progesterone acts as a natural anti-anxiety effect as it affects your GABA receptors which are in turn responsible for non-REM sleep. Progesterone also helps with brain fog, night sweats and is needed to keep estrogen in balance.
Estrogen is responsible for allowing you to fall asleep fast, staying asleep and staying asleep longer. It has a major role in your body utilizing serotonin and magnesium- which is a sleep mineral. An imbalance in estrogen can also lead to night sweats and hot flashes.
When it comes to testosterone and yes women need testosterone too. Research is showing that women may need testosterone more than was previously thought. Testosterone levels have shown to be higher during REM sleep, so if you are having trouble getting into REM sleep your levels could be lower and in return if your levels are low it can impact you getting into REM sleep. Not good all the way around.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by your pineal gland in your brain that controls your sleep /wake cycles. Your melatonin levels start to rise as light diminishes in the evening and start to decrease as morning approaches.
Cortisol is the hormone that your adrenal gland produces in relation to stress. A balanced cortisol level is one that rises in the morning and slowly falls during the day and is low at nighttime. You’ve heard me talk about adrenal fatigue on the show before and that is where chronic stress can lead to low levels in the morning and elevated levels in the evening, thus leading to sleep issues.
Stress can take various forms and be precipitated by a variety of environmental, professional and personal causes. Everyone deals with a certain amount of stress, so while you can’t always avoid it entirely, you should at least be able to reduce it. Try to find the cause of your stress first – whether it is from personal relationships, work, or home life.
Once you have narrowed down the main sources of your stress, you can try to eliminate them, or at least learn how to manage them better. This might mean finding enough time for self-care, avoiding certain toxic people leading to your stress, or working on healthier daily habits to overcome it.
Here are a few other things that can affect your sleep.
Certain medications contain ingredients that might enhance states of wakefulness because they contain stimulant drugs or produce sleep-disrupting side effects. It is a good idea to consider what medications you are currently taking and determine if they might be affecting your sleep.
Some medications might include:
Cold or flu medications
If you take any of these regularly, talk to your medical provider about possible alternatives.
Certain Foods and Beverages
Some foods contain stimulating substances like caffeine such as coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. Stimulants, especially if ingested in the evening or prior to said individual’s regular bedtime, sleep deprivation could result.
Remember it is not just caffeinated coffee or soft drinks that might keep you from sleeping at night. It could be something as simple as chocolate for dessert, which is a known stimulant.
A Poor Diet
Poor eating habits, or the consumption of non-nutritious foods could elicit fluctuations in your blood sugar and in turn your insulin levels. Blood sugar variations, especially when they occur during the evening or during someone’s regular sleeping hours could cause periods of hunger that interrupt rest cycles.
Now let’s look how a sleep hygiene can help you to get back on tract.
Basically, a sleep hygiene is defined as the habits and procedures that you follow to get a good night’s sleep to be fully alert the next day.
Unfortunately, too many people do not have strong habits in place to maximize their rest. That’s way today I wanted to give you a simple list of ways that you can use to improve your sleep hygiene dramatically because the habits that you practice can either improve or derail your overall sleep. These are habits many of you don’t even think about, and definitely don’t realize affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Think about what you do shortly before bed. Maybe you have a bath or shower, brush your teeth, listen to music or watch TV. These are all habits that you probably do every night, without thinking about it, right?
Some habits are great and can encourage good sleep. But others can actually keep you from falling asleep on time, and disrupt your sleep rhythm, causing you to get out of deep sleep multiple times a night.
These often cause you to feel fatigued and sluggishness throughout the day.
A sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.
So, ladies if you are struggling with fatigue during the day, then you probably need to work on your sleep hygiene.
Before getting too involved in changing your entire routine, it is good to start small. Just change a few habits and upgrade your sleeping environment to start improving your sleep overall.
Here are some simple sleep habits to start with:
To start with, stop sleeping anywhere but your bed. Get used to turning off the television in the living room and getting off the couch so you can head to your bedroom. Sleeping on the couch might seem restful, but you probably wake up multiple times a night, especially if you leave the TV on.
You also want to get a better mattress and bedding if it is a little outdated. Without a doubt, purchasing a comfortable mattress can significantly improve the quality of your sleep every night.
In addition, don’t be afraid to place extra pillows in your bed to add to the level of comfort you experience when it is time to sleep. It is also recommended to wash all of your sheets and pillows at least once a week to keep allergens and dust to a minimum in your room. If you suffer from allergies of a kind, using hypoallergenic bedding materials can really improve your ability to rest well.
Getting some shut-eye ladies is much easier with the right sleeping equipment in a pleasant environment. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that using eye shades, ear plugs, blackout curtains, white noise machines, humidifiers, essential oils, and other equipment can make your room a more relaxing zone.
Get Some Exercise
If you want to improve your sleep hygiene, you should consider exercising more. Multiple studies show that working out every day, even for 10 minutes, can help your body become more prone to sleep later on. However, avoid strenuous exercise before sleeping at night because it has the opposite effect.
Try some light yoga or a simple stretching routine, and it will help you sleep soundly. If you enjoy cardio, schedule it for a few hours before your normal bedtime.
Develop A Sleep Routine
A great way to ensure that you fall to sleep at the proper time every night is to develop a sleep routine, before bed, you may want to take a long shower or a hot bath with aromatic oils to release stress and become drowsy.
You can follow up by reading an interesting book or listening to some peaceful music to prepare yourself to go to sleep. You can also write or meditate to clear your mind of any thoughts that prevent keep you from entering slumberland. There is no right or wrong way to do this, as long as it is something you can keep up with.
Aim for Eight Hours of Rest
On average, many women do well with receiving anywhere from 6-8 hours of sleep per night. The exact amount of time for rest varies for each person. Once you pinpoint how many hours it takes for you to feel adequately rested and rejuvenated, then you must plan accordingly. Creating a sleep schedule that gives you ample time to get enough sleep is important for your livelihood and health.
Never Eat Late at Night
Do you know that if you eat too late in the day that your digestive issues can keep you up at night? Medical professionals, myself included, recommend that you not consume anything past 8 pm each night, or you run the risk of your dinner or late-night snack interrupting your precious sleep pattern.
If you chow down on fatty processed foods at weird hours of the night, your gut may experience greater issues, such as indigestion. Not only can eating at a decent hour improve your ability to fall asleep, but your body benefits from fewer gastrointestinal issues during the day and night.
The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical school suggests that you should avoid foods that contain caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol if you want to get to sleep. These chemicals are actually stimulants that can keep you up later at night than normal. If you are looking for a nighttime tea, try chamomile or valerian tea.
What you choose to do (or not do) each day is affecting your mind, mental health, and ability to relax in the evening.
It might sound like fun to eat your favorite meal and follow it up with a few drinks, but alcohol is known to affect your sleep. It can feel like you get better sleep after drinking alcohol, but you are never fully rested. This is why you often wake up feeling like you were hit by a truck.
Developing Good Daily Habits
Keep in mind that not all habits will seem like they help with sleep, but by improving your overall health and wellness, you encourage good sleep at the same time. Don’t feel like you need to change everything at once – just one simple change at a time will make a drastic difference.
If you’re not sure where to start, try the following as soon as possible:
Shut off your phone and television when you are going to sleep.
Meditate or write in a journal shortly before bed.
Change your bedding or upgrade to something more comfortable.
Listen to soft music in the evening instead of something that stimulates your mind.
Find more relaxing, quiet activities in the evenings, such as reading or taking a bath.
Add physical activity during the day to increase how tired you are at night.
The Importance of Unplugging
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to unplug at night. This can be hard to do since you are used to being attached to your phone at all times, but it causes a lot of distractions.
If family and friends are bound to contact you at all hours of the night just to chat, turning off the tech can be a real sleep-saver. Shutting off the television helps you get to sleep faster, so you won’t be tempted to binge-watch your favorite shows after dark.
Embrace the idea of a good night’s sleep, because it can only benefit you. Not only can the proper sleep improve your work and academic performance, but it can also make you a livelier person to be around.
Creating a New Nighttime Routine
Part of practicing good sleep hygiene and changing your sleep habits is to have a nighttime routine. This might seem silly, but it can make all the difference when it comes to getting a good nights’ sleep.
Start Winding Down Ahead of Time
Your nighttime routine should start a few hours before it is time for bed. You want to have an approximate time for going to sleep each night, as long as your work schedule allows it. This makes it easier to create a routine that works good for you.
About 1-2 hours before you intend to go to sleep, start winding down. This should include turning the volume down on any electronics, switching over to relaxing activities, and cutting off the snacks and drinks (see below). This extra time allows your body and mind to prepare for bed.
Plan Relaxing Activities
Your nighttime routine should include relaxing, quiet, restful activities. While they can vary based on the person and your own preferences, these activities might include:
Writing in a journal or planner – Writing in a journal or planner allows you to check in with yourself, cross items off your to-do list, and empty your mind of worries from the day so you aren’t lying in bed all night thinking about it.
Taking a bath or shower – Even if you take a shower in the morning, consider adding it to your evening routine as well. This is going to help you relax with a combination of the hot water and any essential oils or aromatherapy body products you decide to use.
Meditating – This is an amazing way to relax your mind and thoughts before bed. If you struggle with sleep due to stress, you definitely want to add meditation to your routine.
Reading – Reading in bed can help to make you tired but choose something that doesn’t stimulate your mind too much or cause you to want to finish the book before you go to sleep.
Stop Eating or Drinking Before Bed
You also want to be careful about eating or drinking too soon before bed. Too much water or other liquids could cause your sleep to be interrupted by using the restroom, while food can cause indigestion or acid reflux.
The most important thing with your sleep hygiene is to be consistent in these habits. The longer you keep up with healthier habits and participate in your nighttime routine, the more effective it is going to be for improved sleep.
So, let’s recap how you are going to get started
- Choose a bedtime. To start with, choose a bedtime that works with your schedule. At the very least, go to bed at the same time every workday, so that on those nights, you know you are giving yourself plenty of time for good sleep.
- Create your nighttime routine. Using the tips above, add some activities to your nighttime routine that are good for your body and mind, and help you relax to fall asleep faster.
- Improve your daily habits. It isn’t just habits before bed that help you sleep, but during the day as well. Remember ladies this includes reducing caffeinated beverages, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and working on reducing your stress and anxiety.
Stress Hormones 101
Reading Time: 11 minutes Ladies, an awakening has happened, no pun intended, regarding the importance of sleep. Sometimes referred to as the “sleep revolution,” women of all ages are realizing the necessity of a