If you’ve ever felt exhausted during the day, have found yourself napping more than normal or tossing and turning throughout the night unable to get to sleep, you may need to rethink your habits. Proper sleep hygiene is an important part of a healthy lifestyle no matter what stage of life you are in.
According to researchers at Harvard the amount of sleep we require changes as we age. A newborn baby will sleep between 16-20 hours each day; though any parent of a newborn will tell those hours don’t seem to happen at night. Toddlers average a little less, around 11-12 hours. Adolescents and teenagers should be sleeping at least 9 hours a night, and adults require an average of 8 hours, though many struggle to maintain that number.
Busy, working adults often find themselves in a bind when it comes to bedtime. Trying to get the recommended amount of shut eye in between jobs, family obligations, and personal pursuits can seem impossible. In addition to daily stresses, poor habits can make the time they do allow themselves for sleep less restful than it should be.
Establishing healthy patterns related to sleep can make for a better, more productive waking life in the long run. So how do you get in the habit of a healthy sleep routine? Here are a number of recommendations to consider:
- Avoid taking substances that are known to disrupt sleep patterns. Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine are the main culprits. Breaking the habit of a night cap before sleep, quitting smoking, or cutting back on your coffee may be difficult, but it will lead to a better night’s rest.
- Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only. Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary. Reserve other areas of your home for activities like working on your computer or reading.
- Create a calming pre-sleep routine. Create a soothing routine to follow in the hour or so before bed, so that your body and mind are prepared for rest.
- If you must nap, so earlier in the day. Napping too close to your natural bedtime can throw your body off and make it more difficult to get a full night’s sleep.
- Eat lighter and drink less in the hours before bedtime. Heavy meals close to bedtime can disturb your rest. If you need to eat a late night meal, keep it light. Also, balance your fluid intake, so that you’re less likely to wake up to use the restroom during the night.
- Stay consistent. Once you develop a routine. It’s important to stick with it. Go to bed at the same time each night, and try to get a consistent amount of sleep. In this way, you train your body to expect sleep at a certain time. This may make it easier for you to establish a healthy sleeping routine.
By establishing a few simple habits, you may find that your sleep time becomes more effective. If, after implementing these routines, you find that you are still having difficulty with sleep, you may want to contact your doctor.