Sleep hygiene relates to the environment you create in which to sleep. Hygiene makes us think of cleaning – and in a way, it is a ‘clean’ sleep environment without dirty air, noise, light, dust or electromagnetic fields.
The word hygiene also reminds us that this is a daily practice, not a once off ‘spring clean’, but the small efforts that you make everyday to create a healthy place to rest your body.
How to have good sleep hygiene
1. ENSURE AIRFLOW, YOU MUST HAVE FRESH AIR IN YOUR ROOM. If you are out for the day, leave a window open. Even in cold weather allow fresh air to circulate for a few minutes in the morning or evening. Don’t breathe stale air all night.
2. NO DUST. Vacuum mattresses weekly, seasonal airing in the sunshine. Replace pillows regularly and use mattress and pillow protectors that are hot washed with bedding. Consider the age of carpet and curtains and the possible need for cleaning/ replacing. Remove excess stuffed animals, stored old jumpers, linen or other dust collecting material within bedrooms or wardrobes.
3. DARKNESS. The pineal gland is in the centre of our brain, behind the point of our third eye. It detects light and dark cycles. With artificial light we confuse the natural diurnal variation of hormones and don’t allow natural sleep chemicals to kick in. Keep lights low before bed and try to sleep in an environment of no light wherever possible.
4. EMF FIELDS. Electromagnetic fields are the energy emitted from power sources and devices. These can be plugged in next to your bed, within the walls of your room or even behind the outer wall in the power box. There is controversy about the safe types, levels and distance we should sleep from these. A practical approach is to keep alarms, phones, iPads or any electrical devices 3 metres from your body.
No screens 30 minutes before bed. Set your alarm for 9pm, then go to bed at 9:30. Read a real paper book for 10-15 minutes, and then put in your earplugs if there is noise and turn the lights out.
If you lay there awake, use this time to practice meditation. Just think how experienced you’ll be if you get to meditate 2-3 hours per night!
If you have persistent problems with sleep – see your doctor. You may need a sleep study, a trial of prescription melatonin (our lovely natural sleep hormone).
You may need to consider a hormone imbalance, review your heart health, or rule out anxiety and/or depression.
Sleep is essential. It is critical for wellbeing.
If you aren’t sleeping well, nothing else you do in your life will have any lasting effect. No perfect diet, exercise, spiritual practice will make up for adequate hours of good quality sleep.
Make this your priority.
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