Sleep Hygiene

The use of melatonin has been shown to improve the quality of our sleep. As no single factor in our daily living can be blamed solely for robbing us of our sleep, it can be tricky to sleep well even with sleeping-aids such as melatonin. When we incorporate good sleeping habits into our daily routines, we take full advantage of the melatonin that we use to achieve a good night’s rest. Just as we make it a hygienic habit to wash our hands before our meals, we too make it a good habit to observe a few things before our sleep. So, what should we observe for sleep hygiene?

 

The bed and bedroom. The bed is for sleeping and intimate activities only. Never use your bed for anything else such as reading, watching videos, consuming media, or even work. The body needs to associate the bed with rest, therefore whenever you are on your bed, your body knows it is time to sleep. Keeping your bedroom cool and air-conditioned helps with relaxation, turning on the sleep mode of the air conditioner help create a quiet atmosphere for sleep. 

 

Regularity. Your body’s circadian rhythm is something to be respected and observed. Go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, even on weekends, off days and public holidays! This conditions the body to follow a sleep-wake cycle, which helps achieve long-term success in treating insomnia! 

 

Leave the bed. If you are unable to fall asleep, leave the bed and do some light activities in another room, or a chair or sofa. Do something boring such as light reading or watch the traffic out of the window. Avoid mentally demanding or emotionally stimulating activities until you feel sleepy again before you return to your bed. 

 

Use the darkness. Turn off the lights to your advantage. Light is a powerful signal for the body to wake up, removing all light sources in your bedroom tells your body that it is time to rest. Switch off all lights in your room and use heavy curtains if there are light sources outside of your windows. Use a comfortable sleep mask if the light sources are out of your control. 

 

Avoid stimulants. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants which excites the brain and interferes with sleep. Do not smoke or drink coffee or tea 4 to 6 hours before your bedtime. Avoid alcoholic drinks even as people claim that it helps them fall asleep, alcohol prevents restful sleep, resulting in poor quality sleep. Watch out for certain carbonated drinks as they may list caffeine in its ingredients.

 

Naps. If needed, keep your daytime naps between 20 to 40 minutes maximum. This is called catnapping, which quickly rests the body without entering deeper stages of sleep, avoiding disruption of the sleep cycles. Take a quick day time rest to refresh yourself without affecting your sleep at night.

 

Get offline. Disconnect yourself from social media feeds, messengers(non-essential), video shorts, reels, live streams, news reports, streaming services and all kinds of distractions that will keep you hooked to your smartphones, tablets and/or computers. This takes away any form of stimulations and practices that will encroach upon your bedtime. Many modern smartphones have a sleep/night mode built-in to reduce interruptions during your specified bedtime. Allow your essential messaging services to remain active, in case of emergencies; otherwise, silence your phones.  

 

Food. It can be difficult to go to bed hungry, eating a light snack or a glass of milk can help with falling asleep. However, eating heavily before bed can interrupt sleep! Just remember to brush and floss your teeth!

 

Exercise. Regular exercise is beneficial for a wide variety of reasons. However, avoid strenuous exercises or physical activity 4 hours before bedtime as this can cause difficulties in relaxation.

 

Bedtime rituals. Some people take a shower right before bed, others practise meditation and prayers. Routine activities and practices before bed help signal the body to sleep. Give your loved ones a good hug, bid goodnight and head off to bed.

 

It is encouraging to know that our body responds well to good habits. With good sleep hygiene and melatonin supplements as a sleep-aid, you are well beyond taking your first steps in sleeping well.

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