By “sleep hygiene,” we mean a series of rules and behaviors that you should follow and adopt to promote a quality night’s rest, which can also be very useful for combating insomnia. Education in good sleep hygiene is recommended to treat disorders affecting both falling asleep and maintaining sleep. It will therefore come as no surprise to know that it’s a technique that falls within the cognitive-behavioral treatment protocols of insomnia.
Sleep hygiene education may be indicated in treating most, if not all, types of insomnia. The resolution of insomnia is closely related to the identification and contrast of the triggering causes. Achieving and maintaining proper sleep hygiene is undoubtedly a fundamental step to defeat insomnia.
The rules of sleep hygiene concern various areas related to the individual’s lifestyle and habits. For the benefits of proper sleep hygiene to be significant and perceptible, it is important to respect the rules and behaviors indicated consistently and regularly.
Here are the sleep hygiene rules to abide by to fight insomnia…
#1. Limit the time spent in bed
Limiting the time spent in bed by sleeping only the hours necessary to feel rested the following day is advisable. In this way, you help your sleep cycle. Conversely, spending too much time in bed – even for “alternative” activities, such as watching TV, eating, etc. – can cause sleep to become lighter and more fragmented.
#2. Avoid forcing yourself to sleep
If you can’t sleep at bedtime, trying to sleep can be counterproductive. In these cases, it may be helpful to get up, get out of the bedroom, do some other activity (for example, reading) to help you fall asleep, and then go back to bed when you feel sleepy.
#3. Program your sleep-wake rhythm
Waking up at the same time every day for all seven days of the week is another good idea to promote quality sleep. Waking up at the same time every morning means you can get a regular sleep time, thus allowing the regulation of one’s biological clock.
#4. Ensure the comfort of your bedroom
If you want to promote a good night’s rest, the bedroom must be dark, quiet, and at the right temperature. Light, noises, and temperatures that are too high or too low – even if they do not necessarily cause awakening – can still hinder and negatively interfere with sleep.
#5. Perform regular physical activity
Physical activity, as we know, is essential for the well-being of the whole organism, but perhaps not everyone knows that it can also have beneficial effects on sleep. By reducing stress, it promotes falling asleep and deep sleep. Be careful though, if physical activity is practiced too close to bedtime, it could have the opposite effect. For this reason, it is advisable not to do it within three hours of bedtime.
#6. Eat meals regularly, but don’t overdo it
It’s very important NOT to go to bed hungry, but to eat all meals on time to promote sleep. On the other hand, it is also advisable not to eat too much or “heavy” meals before bed.
#7. Avoid drinking alcohol and too much liquid before bedtime
Reducing fluid intake and consuming substances or products that promote diuresis decreases the risk of getting up at night to urinate. If, on the one hand, alcohol seems to favor falling asleep, on the other, it can cause an increase in nocturnal awakenings and / or an early awakening in the morning.
#8. Limit or eliminate caffeine and avoid smoking
As everyone knows, caffeine is an exciting substance that can affect an individual’s sleep. It is understood that each person can be more or less sensitive to its action. In case of insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, it is advisable to avoid consuming foods and drinks that contain it, especially near bedtime. Even if taken early in the day, caffeine can potentially negatively affect night rest.
The nicotine in tobacco can also interfere with sleep. If you have insomnia or are unable to sleep, therefore, avoid smoking before bedtime or when you are unable to sleep.
#9. Reduce stress, worries, and daytime naps
These two factors can interfere with the quality of night’s rest, making it very difficult to fall asleep and making sleep lighter and less deep. For this reason, you should try to reduce stress as much as possible – possibly also using relaxation techniques – and face and solve your problems.
Avoid napping because staying awake throughout the day helps facilitate night rest. This indication, however, is not valid for everyone, as in the case of individuals who work with particular shifts, the elderly, etc.
These rules may seem trivial and raise doubts about the benefits that compliance can bring to sleep quality and insomnia. Many of the above rules foresee the modification of habits that have by now been internalized. These habits make it impossible for us to see a connection with how it affects our quality of rest.
However, such an assessment of sleep hygiene standards would be wrong; in fact, several studies have shown how failure to respect them can worsen insomnia.
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