The Do’s and Don’ts of Sleep Hygiene

sleep health

Hygiene promotes health. You might be annoyed by many reminders to stop looking at your cellphone, laptop or PC monitor an hour or more before bedtime, but that’s a life lesson worth heeding. Mental health professionals aren’t learning that their clients feel better because they stayed up, despite being sleepy, to check messages. That blue light emanating from your device is sabotaging your body clock, anyway.

Enjoy some down time by reading a book, sharing a conversation, or quietly contemplating life. You’ll sleep better for the effort. The bonus is that you won’t wonder if you’re losing your mind the next day. The basic Do’s and Don’ts of Sleep Hygiene come down to one reality: Fighting human biology is a losing battle.

Humans need enough sleep to be healthy and focused. Learn to recognize how much sleep you need. Individuals have different genetic realities. Our habits matter, too. Nurture your inner napper by gradually slowing down towards evening. Dim the lights an hour or so before bedtime. Sleep without lights. There’s medical evidence that they can harm health after natural darkness fills the sky. Stick to a realistic “Heading to Bed” ritual every evening. You might want to lay out tomorrow’s clothes, check your day planner, write some notes, or take something out of the freezer to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. You can spend time meditating or praying as your body relaxes from the stresses of the day now ending.

Whatever your ritual might be, or become, stay with it. Your body clock will cooperate with it. If you lack bedtime rituals, your body will struggle to calm down enough for quality sleep. Keep bedroom essentials orderly. Nighties, slippers, and the bed, should be tidy and inviting. Restrict your bed to sleep and sex, plus cuddling with the kids, only. Too many activities on a space designed for a limited number of actions will undermine your sleeping efforts. Your thoughts will wander as they remember too many details for relaxation.

Keep sleeping a simple activity. Mind your must-dos! Get sunshine on your skin during the day, and enjoy looking at nature. Work your muscles a bit more than you normally would, too. Daily exercise and natural light help our bodies to function at peak performance. Life being what it is, habits and needs change over time. Adjust accordingly, and permit yourself to experiment with sleep-promoting strategies. What worked in the past might not work in your future. You’re a work in progress.