Sleep Hygiene Part I

Sleep hygiene is about the habits you can get into and the things you can do to help ensure that at bedtime you are able to fall asleep and stay asleep.

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While it may be a new term to some, there really is such a thing as sleep hygiene.

When you understand what it means, and how to apply it, you likely will find that the quality of your sleep may be greatly improved. Personal hygiene is about soap and bathing and all the things you can do to keep your body clean and smelling good. Dental hygiene, likewise, involves all the things you can do to keep your teeth healthy and strong and firmly in place in your mouth where they belong.

Keeping all that in mind, sleep hygiene is about the habits you can form, and the things you can do, to help ensure that when it's time for you to get into bed, you will be better able to fall asleep, AND stay asleep.

What we offer below is a list of things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene so that you can get the most out of your sleeping time.

Establish specific times for going to sleep and waking up

A regular bed time was important when you were a child and, although I know you "don't wanna go to bed" it is just as important as an adult. Unfortunately we adults lead busy lives and getting to sleep at the same time night after night can be difficult. True, it IS a bit easier to wake up at set times because our jobs, schools, or other obligations force us to wake up even when we don't want to. But, when there's the weekend or some other day off, we like to treat ourselves by sleeping-in later than normal whenever possible. Without a set time for going to sleep and for waking up, it can be difficult to train your body for sleep. Without proper training, getting an adequate amount of sleep night after night is difficult.

Learn to relax your body

If you just change into your pajamas and climb into bed, your body might not be ready for sleep, especially if you just completed an activity that engages your mind and body such as exercising, watching television or even eating. If you don't first relax, you'll find it takes longer to fall asleep even though you may feel exhausted. In fact, studies have shown that watching TV or playing on the computer stimulates portions of the brain in ways that can interfere with falling asleep.

To further help train the body into settling down to sleep, it's important to learn to relax before bedtime. About an hour before you plan to go to bed, start calming your body. Yoga and meditationOpening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach (Book & CD) are perfect ways you can take your mind and body into a relaxed state.

Other ways to bring about a relaxed state are by learning how to deep breathe. When you are busy concentrating on your breathing, the body automatically begins to relax. Progressive relaxationNew Directions in Progressive Relaxation Training: A Guidebook for Helping Professionals is a technique in which you start relaxing one part of your body and you continue relaxing different parts until you have covered the major parts from head to toe. When you are finished, you go back over your body in your mind. If any part of the body still feels tense, focus on that part until you can get it to feel relaxed.

If that's too much effort, try this relaxation technique. Flex and release your toes over and over again. This type of intense focusing on your toes can actually help to relax the entire rest of your body!

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Sleep Hygiene Part I
Page Updated 10:21 AM Tuesday, July 12, 2022