This Is Why You Need to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is an essential part of our physical and mental well-being. A lack of quality sleep can affect our body functions, moods, concentration and put us at risk of serious conditions. For example, lack of sleep can lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.
The result of poor sleep is reduced capacity to carry out work on our regular schedules. Also, our mood and overall quality of life can be significantly reduced.
Depression and sleep problems are commonly associated with each other. People diagnosed with anxiety disorders or depression have a higher likelihood of having poor sleep, and vice-versa.
Therefore, sleep is an important component of staying healthy and active for every person.
This Is What Quality Sleep Can Do for You
Poor sleep quality can affect every aspect of your life — from emotions, reactions to situations, relationships, work, and our general activity. Enough quality sleep, on the other hand, will boost productivity, attention, mood, concentration, and overall well-being. With proper sleep, one wakes up feeling energized, active, and ready to achieve new goals.
Also, sleep is heavily tied to “hunger hormones.” Irregular sleep patterns can cause an increase in weight gain, not coupling the fact that exercising without proper rest is going to be tougher.
Besides these, with enough sleep, you reduce the chances of developing heart diseases and diabetes. Immune functionality is also increased with enough sleep.
Proper Sleep Hygiene — Sleep Quality & Sleep Quantity
Sleep hygiene is made up of 2 components: sleep quantity and sleep quality.
Sleep quantity refers to the recommended number of hours per night required for a person. Usually, 7-9 hours each night should suffice for adults.
Sleep quality, on the other hand, has several characteristics that qualify it. These include:
- The ability to get the recommended number of hours of sleep time for your age group.
- Falling asleep within half an hour of getting into bed.
- Generally sleeping comfortably throughout the night with minimal interruptions.
- Falling back asleep within 20 minutes if sleep is interrupted.
- Feeling well-rested and energized in the morning instead of feeling tired and exhausted.
How to Tell If You Are Suffering From Poor Sleep Quality
In many cases, our sleep hygiene may be significantly improved by taking a keener awareness in our daily habits, especially those revolving around the evening and night-time. Certain tell-tale signs may be a symptom of poor sleep quality.
Check for the following signs to assess whether you have sleep problems:
- You are suffering from insomnia.
- You spend much of your time in bed awake.
- You always wake up in the morning feeling even more tired and groggy.
- You are feeling angrier, irritable, or more emotional when you wake up.
- You rarely, if ever, have a complete night of sleep.
- You started to notice skin problems.
- Your eyes are often puffy and inflamed.
- You need extra caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soda to stay awake.
What Are the Potential Causes of Poor Sleep Quality?
We’ve just highlighted how poor sleep quality manifests and some signs of problems. However, it may be more important to know what causes sleep problems.
Here are four reasons why you can’t sleep at night:
Stress and Anxiety
Too much stress, worry, anxiety, and depression can be a major cause of poor sleep quality. Life challenges and negative daily experiences that affect us in relationships, school, work can be a major cause of lack of sleep.
Worryings and fears get the best of us at night. If this describes you, try relaxation techniques even if for just a few minutes before you sleep. You can learn them during the online therapy sessions. Online therapy is a great way to talk to a professional who can help you cope with your stress/anxiety.
Poor Night-Time Habits
Night-time habits include consumption of too much junk food or caffeine, watching TV, and using a smartphone right before sleep. Alcohol and soda tend to affect sleep cycles, even though alcohol is known to have a sedative effect.
Other pre-sleep habits to be avoided include intense exercise before bedtime, and continuing work to deep into the night.
Too Much Light
It is suggested that light, especially blue light, affects the body’s sleep-wake cycle, also called the circadian rhythm. Such light affects the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Darkness signals our brains that it is time to sleep. Therefore, sleeping while surrounded by light such as from a phone, laptop, or television, can be quite disruptive to our sleep.
Lack of a Daily Sleep Ritual
Waking up and going to bed is just one part of the more important routine. Depending on the habits that you have put in place associated with your night-time, your body can tell when it is time to go to bed.
Creating a routine that eases you into sleep modes such as reading a book in warmer, ambient light, or a nighttime warm bath are a few ways to go about it.
Easing into a pre-sleep routine may mean several changes to your nighttime schedule. You can do this gradually and come up with a schedule that works well for you.
Common Types of Sleep Disorders
Note that sleep disorders may be symptoms of deeper underlying problems. Some of them are serious enough to interfere with normal functioning.
What are the common types?
- Sleep apnea — breathing repeatedly starts and stops when a person sleeps.
- Insomnia — refers to difficulty staying asleep and is usually caused by health conditions, stress, jet lag, anxiety, etc.
- Narcolepsy — one experiences uncontrollable or excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS) — a person experiences an uncontrollable movement with their arms and legs during sleep.
- Delayed sleep-wake phase sleep disorder — a person goes to bed/wakes up later than conventional bedtime.
- Shift work sleep disorder — a person’s circadian body rhythm and their regular work schedule are out of sync.
Here Is How to Rest Better at Night
If you’re suffering from sleep problems, consider implementing some self-help ways to relax and sleep better. These techniques focus on 4 key areas, namely:
- Physical/muscle relaxation
- Mindfulness and relaxation techniques
- Making the environment more optimal
- Changing your routine
For sleep disorders, it’s also important to talk to health professionals. With e-therapy, this has been made much easier and convenient to get help from a therapist.
Here are some of the self-help ways to solve sleep problems. Try to practice:
Physical exercise is just one of the ways to relax tightened muscles and improve sleep quality. Relaxing the shoulders, calves, hamstrings, and back area is a good place to start to achieve better sleep.
Mindfulness and Mental Relaxation
Mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment, for example, by trying to empty all thoughts and regulating your breathing.
Also, yoga, breathing techniques, journaling, and meditation are especially useful for people suffering from anxiety, stress, and depression that lead to insomnia.
Shifting Your Environment or Ambiance
Sometimes your environment is just too loud or has too much light for you to have a good night’s rest. You can try changing it to a warmer or darker feel. You can change your pillows and beddings, and adjust the temperature to be more convenient for you.
Also, a brief walk outside or just catching your breath in the cooler night air may be enough to provide a good night’s rest.
Shifting Your Routine
A deliberate change in your routine, for example, going to bed 30 minutes earlier and avoiding intense evening workouts, TV, and social media before bedtime may be great stoppers to sleep disturbances.
Talk to a Therapist to Cope with the Problems
Not all the solutions listed here can work for everyone struggling with sleep problems. If it interferes with your daily functioning, affects your health, or you suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental issues that cause sleep problems, reach out to a doctor and therapist. For example, the Calmerry platform can provide you with the right professionals.
Start caring for your well-being today. Don’t ignore the sleep disturbances and emotional problems — seek professional support and guidance.