Have you ever heard the term, “sleep hygiene?”
Just as oral hygiene is the way you care for your mouth and teeth, sleep hygiene is the collection of practices and habits dealing with your sleeping life. They are extremely important, since approximately one-third of your life is spent, asleep. Some people sleep a bit more, and others, less. The key is to feel rested when you wake up. If you don’t, it’s likely that you have poor sleep hygiene. Many wearable activity trackers, such as certain models of the Fitbit, are able to track your sleep and give you a good idea of how much you sleep and what the quality of that sleep is.
Like Goldilocks, you don’t want to too hot or too cold. It needs to be JUST right. The truth is that “just right” tends to be a little on the cool side, like 60-65F. my husband ritually loves the thermostat each night. You can also program your thermostat. Move the temp down gradually, a degree further every night.
Light—or the lack of it to be more precise.
Total darkness is the perfect way to cue your body that it’s time to rest. Blackout curtains are great for keeping out the light. Don’t discount the effect of other light sources, on your sleep hygiene, especially if they emit “blue light.” Your rain perceives blue light as sunlight. This disruptive light is what you find in nearly all of your electronics, such as your cell phone. For this reason, you will also want to stop all screen time an hour prior to going to bed.
Again, the lack of sound is what we are looking for.
If background noise is bothering you, white noise can be helpful. It’s easy to grow dependent on it, though. Then, when you stay overnight in a hotel or at a friend’s home, you find it even more difficult to sleep.
Sex and Sleep
That’s what beds are made for. Restrict your time in bed to those 2 activities. This will help you to associate being in bed with them, and nothing else. This is a rule I routinely break, but having a sick husband means spending a lot of time in bed. Sometimes you need to sacrifice for the greater good. That’ your decision t make. Just know that you are likely sacrificing your sleep hygiene. Is it worth it? Only you can decide that.
Create a relaxing pre-sleep ritual
When my husband was diagnosed with cancer and that changed. In the early days, when we were waiting for test results to come back, I laid awake staring at the ceiling, wondering what the future would hold. When we knew it was cancer, grief set in, making it impossible to relax. So I know how hard it can be to go into sleep mode when you have such important things on your mind.
Finding a few things that you can incorporate into a pre-sleep ritual will help prepare your mind and body for sleep. They may include a warm bath with essential oils, prayer, meditative breathing or other relaxing practices.
Be careful about what you put in your body
Spicy, greasy, or too much food in the evening can come back to haunt you with heartburn or gas when you want to sleep. Alcohol and caffeine are both disruptive to your sleep cycle, inhibiting your ability to get quality rest. Nicotine and certain drugs can also interfere with your sleep.
Instead, to promote good sleep hygiene, try a small portion of a protein such as an egg, cottage cheese, or yogurt, to satisfy your tummy and promote good rest. Water is good, but take care to not take in so much that your full bladder wakes you in the middle of the night.
No easy answers for sleep hygiene
There are so many things that can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep. I certainly don’t claim to have all of the answers. Hopefully, you can implement some of these sleep hygiene practices to improve your likelihood of getting the rest you need to avoid burning out.
Once again I will be doing double duty in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I will be sharing ways to avoid burnout, here at Facing Cancer with Grace. At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways of thinking creatively, using Brainsparker’s Kickstart Course of A to Z prompts. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites.
Do you have any sleep tips?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker