What is sleep hygiene? It means “clean” behaviour around your sleep and waking activities. Your behaviour around sleep time and waking/active time will play a major role in better sleeping – or the lack of better sleeping. Keeping your sleeping time “clean” from waking time activities will improve your sleep like you wouldn’t believe! But it can be tricky, as in recent years and during certain periods in our lives, sleep and waking seem to be more intertwined than ever.
Psych2Go shares with you 10 psychological secrets to better sleeping. We will not pretend we’re your parents and tell you to go to bed earlier. Instead, we will tell you how to make the most of your sleep.
Regulate your body temperature appropriately.
That means definitely not too warm. While a hot room might seem very comfy, our body temperature during sleep is actually a little bit lower than during the day as our bodies are less active at night. So when regulating the temperature in your bedroom, a little bit colder is better than too warm. You’ve always got your cover to help your body stay warm enough, but a too high room can mean that your body has difficulty getting rid of excess heat, which will prevent you from sleeping better. When your body is able to regulate the body temperature better, the result is better sleeping. (Cleveland Sleep Clinic)
Calm down before going to bed.
In a hectic student lifestyle, for example, it’s quite common to be studying in the evening and then head straight to bed. This is such a big change it takes a while for your body to switch to ‘sleep’ and actually focus on getting to that mindset. Better sleeping can help reduce anxiety. The best workouts have a cooling down time right? Take about 20-30 minutes before really going to bed to quiet down. Read something (preferably not on a screen), pick some clothes for the next day or already prepare your breakfast for the next morning.
Experiment with different (healthy) sleeping positions.
- If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow under your calves. This will help support the curve of your back.
- If you sleep on your side, try placing a pillow between your legs. This will help align your hips and in that way your spine.
- If you sleep on your stomach, try placing a pillow under your hips to align your back and neck. Also, don’t use a too high pillow if you sleep on your stomach, this is usually bad for your neck.
Keep a sleep-diary.
This will help you keep track of the hours of sleep you are getting – or not getting. This will ultimately help you improve your sleep because it clearly shows you what’s happening.
Make a schedule and stick to it for at least 6 weeks.
You might already start noticing a difference after a couple of days. For your body to get truly used to it, you need to stick to it for longer. When your body gets a clear distinction between ‘awake’ and ‘sleep’ it will also make your sleep more effective. You’ll also be likely to feel less tired during the day. Routine is a key element of better sleeping. (source)
Exercise to use up energy, but not…
…closer than 4 hours before bedtime. Otherwise the activity hormones and after effects will still be in your bloodstream. Also, try to cut down on caffeine 8 hours before you want to go to sleep, if it’s possible. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 8 hours after consumption.
For better sleeping you should write down…
…some things you have been worried about during the day before you go to bed. It will help to get at least some of the tension related to it out of your system.
Drink some milk, or soy milk.
Both of these naturally contain a substance called tryptophan (https://liftmode.com/blog/people-use-l-tryptophan/) which helps your body calm down.
Be “clean” around your sleeping behaviour. Use your bed for sleeping, and try not to watch movies, do homework, or other attention grabbing activities that require concentration. While it’s tempting for the comfort, being ‘clean’ about it will actually condition your brain and body into calming down at the right moments. It will release sleeping hormones in the right context. If you were to do homework in bed your brain might just begin making some sleep hormones which will both not help your sleep and make your study session less effective. Being clean, sleeping better.
Make sure your sleeping surroundings are as noise free as you can get them. There are nights you feel rested after 6 hours of sleep. There are nights you feel exhausted after 9 hours of sleep. The key is quality, and a large part of that is peaceful sleeping. Even if you don’t remember it consciously, research has shown that people generally feel more rested after a night in a quieter environment.
Do you have any other tips for better sleeping, share them with us in the comments or send us an ask on tumblr. Visit our youtube channel for some nice animated videos on psychology!