Sleep hygiene is a bedtime practice with various activities, necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness. There are several, simple ways to enhance sleep quality without the use of drugs or supplements. This list is not exhaustive, but offers distinct ways to enhance sleep and daytime wakefulness.
Themost important sleep hygiene measure is to maintain a regular wake and sleep pattern seven days a week.
Sleep in as dark of a room as possible.
Avoid exposure to blue light emitted from TV's, computers, smart phones, and tablets one hour before bedtime. This light inhibits the body's ability to synthesize melatonin––the sleep hormone. I recommend installing an app called F.Lux (https://justgetflux.com). As the sun begins to set in your timezone this app reduces the blue light from these devices and creates a "natural" sleepiness that we would have if we lived with the rhythms of the rising and setting sun.
Avoid daytime napping. It can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
Exercise promotes quality sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night's sleep.
Food can be disruptive right before sleep. Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it's not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don't dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
Associate your bed with sleep. It's not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
Forest Dobbs, ND is an associate at SageMED in Bellevue, WA. At SageMED we provide In-depth knowledge of nutrigenomics, physical medicine (hands on work), kinesiology (exercise medicine), counseling, mind-body practice, herbs, and pharmaceuticals with care and personalized precision.