Sleep – that magical thing that we can never get enough of. Yet, when given the opportunity to have more of it, we usually end up putting it aside in favour of other activities. Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m going to sleep early tonight,” but end up sleeping much later? I myself am guilty of doing that every other night and only catching an average of 5 hours of sleep (gasp!). When it comes to training the next day, I would be tired and not be able to perform as well as I should.
Sleep hygiene plays an important role in ensuring that we get the proper sleep that we need to rest and recover. The recommended rule for the number of hours of sleep one should have is around 7-8 hours. Good sleep cannot be forced; it is our habits that helps get us ready for sleep. Here are some rules to follow when it comes to keeping bedtime sacrosanct:
1. Set a bedtime
Just like how you would set an alarm to get out of bed, set one to alert you half an hour before your bedtime. Getting into this habit may be tough at first but stick to it and you’ll find yourself feeling more refreshed when you wake thanks to the act of crawling under the covers on time every night.
2. Stay away from stimulants before bedtime
Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine are some of the things you should avoid before you head to bed. My mother stays away from coffee as long as it is after 4pm as she knows that it will interfere with her bedtime at 11pm. Know what gives you that extra boost in energy and stay away from it when it’s approaching the time to sleep.
3. Set the stage (for sleep)
Make your bedroom conducive for quality rest. “Quiet”, “cool” and “dark” are three keywords to bear in mind when it comes to doing that. When getting ready for bed, use nightlights or dimmer lamps. Put away your mobile phones, laptops and tablets half an hour to an hour before bed. Keep your environment cool – the drop in temperature sends a signal to our bodies to wind down.
4. Have a routine before sleep
Take a relaxing shower, read a book (not a digital one) or foam-roll. Find something relaxing to do before you head to bed. This helps ease your brain into winding down just in time for bed.
5. No late naps
I have a bad habit of napping after work. I would reach home, wash up, and laze in bed till I fall asleep. When I do that, I would find myself tossing and turning come night time till the wee hours of the morning. If you need to take a nap, keep it to earlier parts of the day so that it does not affect your bedtime.
Remember, as you sleep, your body recovers from the day’s mental and physical stress. It is just as important as good nutrition and exercise. If you would like to live a long and healthy life, sleep well, eat right, exercise and manage your stress. Never put sleep on the backburner!