Grading Your Own Sleep Hygiene

How do you know if you need to work on your sleep hygiene, those personal steps and environmental standards that help insure a good night’s sleep?

This may seem obvious, but the answer to this and many other sleep-related questions boils down to, “Do you feel tired in the daytime?”

If you get a good, consistent night’s sleep as a routine, you should not feel tired in the daytime. If you do, then the first place to look is into your sleep habits, or what we often call sleep hygiene.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the most crucial aspect of good sleep hygiene is retiring and arising at the same times each and every day of the week. In other words, you shouldn’t have one schedule when you’re working (which usually equates to sleeping less) and another schedule for the weekend (when you might try to make up for the sleep you’ve missed during the workweek).

After that initial commitment to retiring and arising on a set schedule seven days a week, there are some common-sense and environmental issues to consider. For instance, don’t consume caffeinated beverages too close to the evening (stop in the early afternoon), and don’t eat too close to retiring, especially a big or spicy meal. As for alcohol, it may help you snooze off, but as soon as it wears off, you’ll wake up and have a hard time getting back to sleep.

Also, your bedroom should be just that — a room with a bed where you go to sleep, It shouldn’t be your second home theater with a big-screen TV blaring at you, nor should it be a home office with tablets, cellphones and laptops to interfere with your sleep schedule.

And speaking of light sources, though you want to avoid light at night (especially blue light, which thwarts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone), you do want to get plenty of sunshine in the day. If you can’t, speak with your doctor about using a vitamin B3 supplement.

If you adopt all these good sleep-hygiene protocols and still find yourself being tired in the daytime, it’s time to visit your doctor for a discussion, or perhaps go straight to a sleep specialist for an evaluation and treatment options. At any rate, don’t settle for shortchanged daytimes. Seek full vitality through good sleep.

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