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5 Quick and Easy Ways to Improve Sleep Hygiene (Part 1)

Don’t you hate it when you’ve been tired all day long, only to find when your head hits the pillow, you’re wide awake?

It’s a common tale.

There are many things that may contribute to this feeling but one of them is SLEEP HYGIENE. Clean sleep? What does that mean?

Well, sleep hygiene is all about creating healthy habits that give you the best chance at getting good quality shut-eye. Today we’re going to give you 5 quick and easy ones:

  1. Find a regular routine
  2. No screens before bed
  3. Swap your phone for a clock radio
  4. Find an activity that helps you wind down
  5. Meditation or breathing techniques

Find a regular routine

I am sure you’ve heard this one before. But why is finding a regular night-time routine SO important?

Well, consistency is key. Consistent weight training leads to increased strength, consistent mobility work leads to increased movement and consistent sleep routines lead to increased sleep hygiene.

Creating a routine is like training your brain and body to know what to expect at certain times of day. It keeps you accountable for healthy sleeping habits. It helps to calm and destress the mind.

A sleep routine can include as many steps as you like for any duration of time. My personal sleep routine looks like this:

  • 1 hour before bed all screens go off!
  • Write a list of things I need to do tomorrow
  • Shower
  • Brush my teeth
  • Self-massage with magnesium oil
  • Meditate
  • Lights out!

No screens before bed

Scrolling through your phone before bed keeps your mind active and engaged. These effects can continue long after you’ve put the phone down. The blue light emitted from your phone screen can decrease melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone that naturally increases in darkness. The blue light mimics daytime, tricking your brain into remaining awake.

If you sleep with your phone in your room on loud or vibrate mode, any notification that is received may disrupt your sleep. This can delay the REM phase of sleep.

So, what’s the solution?

Firstly, minimise the amount of time on your phone before bed. Switching it off one hour before sleep is sufficient. Keeping your phone out of your room is preferable to remove temptation but if you need your phone for an alarm put it on aeroplane mode or do not disturb.

Swap your phone for a clock radio

This is the perfect solution to the alarm predicament. Using a clock radio for your alarm instead of your phone will leave you with no excuses, get that phone out of your room!!!

It’s a cheap and effective swap which I can say has significantly impacted my sleep hygiene since I made the switch 8 months ago.

Find an activity that helps you wind down

Investing time into an activity that helps decrease stress and slows you down before bed is ideal. This could include things like reading a book, taking a bath in magnesium salts, having a gentle stretch or self-massaging with magnesium oil . All of these techniques have been shown to decrease your fight or flight response. They will allow you to relax and to slip into sleep with ease.

Meditation or breathing techniques

Meditation and breathing techniques are renowned for quietening the racing mind and calming the nervous system. There are so many apps and online resources to guide you, including some on our platform.

A breathing technique I’d like to share with you is the box-breathing technique. Let me walk you through it:

  • Sit in a comfortable position
  • Close down your eyes
  • Place your hands wherever you like, perhaps over your belly or chest
  • Inhale for 4 counts
  • Hold for 4 counts
  • Exhale for 4 counts
  • Hold for 4 counts
  • Repeat this sequence for 5 minutes

Hopefully this provides you with some helpful tips and tricks to get a good sleep. Don’t let the bed bugs bite!

Dr Lee Hoogeveen (Osteopath)

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January 17, 2021

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