7 healthy sleep hygiene habits for restful nights

According to sleephealth.org, 70% of adults in America report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night.

Those affected cannot find restful sleep and are fatigued during the day. 

Not sleeping through the night, endless brooding, restless legs, tiredness during the day – insomnia can have many faces and numerous causes; Stress, anger, personal problems, money worries, or simply being scared of the future in an uncertain world.

Going through a worldwide pandemic made us gain more self-awareness while many started to rethink their priorities. 

Below, I would like to share some of my top seven tips that have helped me overcome my nightly restlessness.

  1. Get up at the same time every morning (set an alarm clock), regardless of how long you slept at night – This rule also applies to the weekend.
  2. Avoid long periods of wakefulness in bed: If you cannot fall asleep for a long time or unruly lie awake during the night, leave the bedroom and engage in a pleasant activity. Many people find it helpful to listen to quiet music in the living room, for example, or to read a book they like. Don’t go back to bed until you are really tired. Try to make peace with the idea of doing this several times during the night if necessary.
  3. Try to avoid caffeine (coffee, coke, black tea) after lunch. As a coffee lover myself, I tried out a couple of different decafs until I found one I truly liked. After that, it became a no-brainer for me only to have that after 1 pm.
  4. Avoid alcohol as much as possible and never use it as a sleeping aid; Alcohol can accelerate falling asleep, but it suppresses deep REM sleep. This can make sleep more superficial toward the mornings, interrupted by periods of wakefulness.
  5. Do not eat heavy meals in the evening because the increased stomach and intestinal activity can lead to restless nights.
  6. Introduce a personal nighttime ritual, such as listening to relaxing music. For example, I like to listen to any kind of white noise (Youtube provides a wide variety) while giving myself a little face massage. In addition, I have a small bag of dried lavender in my nightstand drawer, which is renowned for its ability to create a relaxing atmosphere.
  7. Don’t look at the alarm clock or your wristwatch at night. Instead, turn the alarm clock away from you so that the dial is not in your field of vision. This is to help break habitual processes (e.g., regularly waking up at a specific time) and self-fulfilling prophecies and promote serenity at night – important cornerstones of good sleep hygiene.
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