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Sleep hygiene refers to healthy habits, behaviors, and environmental factors that can be adjusted to help you achieve a good night's sleep. Improving sleep hygiene can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, decrease cravings, and leave you feeling energized and motivated.

When it comes to improving your health, movement,

and nutrition are often the go-to options. Ho

wever, when I consult with a client, I delve deep into their sleep habits because I understand that improving sleep can have a ripple effect on many other areas of their life.

Current research suggests that obtaining 7-9

hours of sleep per night is optimal for health. It's important to note that this refers to actual sleep time, not the time spent in bed. Therefore, it's essential to consider the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. However, there are reports of Einstein advocating for 10 hours of sleep, so it ultimately depends on individual preferences after a minimum of 7 hours. Determine what works best for you.

Signs of good sleep hygiene include:

  • Falling asleep within 20 minutes of lying down

  • Sleeping throughout the night without interruptions

  • Waking up naturally without needing an alarm

  • Being able to get out of bed easily in the morning

  • Feeling energized and motivated for the day ahead

Signs of poor sleep hygiene include:

  • Struggling to fall asleep due to a racing mind

  • Experiencing frequent awakenings during the night and difficulty falling back asleep

  • Relying on an alarm to wake up in the morning

  • Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning

  • Feeling sluggish and needing caffeine to get through the day

  • Craving highly palatable food

While a single night of poor sleep can make the following day challenging, consistent sleep deficiency can lead to chronic health problems. While exercise is a healthy stressor, individuals who are chronically sleep-deprived will only worsen their situation by engaging in intense physical activity. Improving sleep hygiene is a simple but not easy task. It requires trial and error, patience, and consistency, but the benefits are worth it.

You don't need to purchase blue light blockers just yet. Follow these tips to improve your sleep hygiene and, consequently, your overall health:

  • Establish a consistent bedtime and wake time every night. Our bodies thrive on routine.

  • Develop a wind-down routine leading up to bedtime. The specifics of this routine may vary for each person. Personally, I find it helpful to prepare for work the next day, meditate, and then read.

  • Dim the lights and use warm amber bulbs to create a sleep-friendly environment. Our bodies evolved to rely on natural light to regulate sleep and wakefulness. By reducing the brightness of lights before bed, we signal to our bodies that it's nearly time to sleep. The body responds by releasing melatonin, a hormone that aids in sleep.

  • Avoid electronic devices for at least 2 hours before bedtime. Engaging in activities such as watching TV or scrolling on your phone not only exposes you to bright light but also stimulates your brain. Personally, I believe that scrolling in bed is particularly problematic in this regard.

  • Avoid using caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours meaning 6 hours after you consume it half of it will still be in your system.

  • Expose yourself to bright light, preferably natural light, upon waking up.

  • Refrain from consuming caffeine for approximately 60-90 minutes after waking up.

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