Insomnia is a huge problem in the United States, stemming from the stresses of daily survival and individual life-style choices, including the choices we make during the day and especially just prior to bedtime.
Being stressed out from long commutes, long hours at work and bosses that make life difficult is bad enough, but then when we get home, we often compound our problems and make it difficult to get a good night’s rejuvenating, refreshing sleep.
We bombard ourselves with electronic stimulus from televisions, computers, tablets, lights in the bedroom and other sources. That’s fairly routine for most of us. But we then often make things more difficult by consuming the wrong foods — or any food in the wrong amounts — or consuming caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime.
All these issues can be folded under the subject of good sleep hygiene. So what is good sleep hygiene?
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends
- Get plenty of sunshine in the daytime — which means going outside and taking a walk or doing something to soak it in (this will get your body ready to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone, when you turn off the lights at night)
- Get regular exercise — long walks in the sunshine or another routine at the gym, but don’t exercise within three or four hours of going to bed, as that will interfere with your sleep
- Avoid heavy or spicy meals at night
- Don’t drink caffeine too close to bedtime, perhaps even four hours or more prior
- Don’t drink alcohol to excess, max two drinks for men and one for women, as alcohol might help you fall asleep but will interfere with your sleep pattern, even awakening you in the middle of the night
- Do something relaxing right before bed (not TV or music) — read a book or take a warm bath (the latter will help your body get the message that it’s bedtime)
- Leave your problems at work; don’t take them home or to bed with you
- Maintain a sleep-friendly bedroom habitat — no lights, no TVs, no laptops or tablets, nothing to stimulate your senses and keep you awake
If after adopting all these sleep-hygiene essentials you still have sleep issues, then it’s probably time to get professional help. Seek out the experts at The Snoring Center or elsewhere, but don’t let poor sleep ruin your days.