June 28, 2017

What is Healthy Sleep?


As the glorious days of summer bring longer daylight, this also means it may be more difficult to follow your same sleeping patterns. The sun comes up earlier in the morning and stays up later into the evening; although this is one of the great benefits of summertime, it may cause us to wake up earlier and go to bed later. There are many other factors that affect our quality of sleep, which include our habits, stress, environment, diet, activity, sleeping situation, etc. We may not even realize it, but if you are feeling more tired or drowsy than usual, your sleep is worth assessing.

I recently attended a healthy sleep workshop here at the DAHLC. For a long time now, I have struggled getting to sleep and then staying asleep through the night. My primary reasons among many were having a cluttered mind and having a baby waking in the night. While I couldn't ignore my baby, I could change the cluttered mind situation. Attending the sleep workshop not only helped me pinpoint some of the factors hindering my sleep, but it also helped me evaluate the conditions I could change and how to practically do it. I also appreciated that I was encouraged to choose one factor at a time to change and see how that helps, rather than trying to change multiple factors at once. Because I struggle with having too many thoughts buzzing around in my head when I go to bed, the wellness coach and I discussed having a list by my bedside to write down my thoughts or the things I was needing to get done the next day. That way, I was physically writing them down and, therefore, letting them go for the time being. This is merely one example of a positive change that I made for my bedtime routine. It has only been a month now, and I'm well on my way to a better night's sleep.

Here are some expert tips to evaluate for your best night's sleep:

  1. Assess your environment: keep your room dark and cool at night. Also think about keeping it tidy, so it feels like a haven. Plus, who wants to trip over clothes on the floor in the middle of the night...yikes!
  2. Try to avoid looking at your TV or mobile device screen about an hour before going to sleep. This one is difficult for most, but it's important to consider. The light affects our brain's ability to fall asleep, so if you must look at a screen, look for apps that can filter the blue light for a sleep-friendly setting. Ex: Twilight app
  3. Set a routine: try to go to bed around the same time most nights and do similar things right before falling asleep. For example, brush your teeth, meditate/pray/reflect, read a not-too-interesting book and then turn off all lights.
  4. Think about what you're eating and drinking that could affect sleep. Too much caffeine and/or alcohol are known to inhibit sleep as well as eating a meal right before bed.
  5. Be active. Incorporating some kind of physical activity in your daily routine really does boost your sleep quality. Just try to avoid working out right before bed unless that's your favorite time because most people increase their energy and blood flow which inhibits sleepiness.
  6. Prioritize. We spend about 1/3 of our lives asleep making it a pretty important aspect of our lives. Respect your sleep by making it a priority...you won't regret it!

Tags: healthy sleep, sleep well, Uncategorized

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