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Sleep hygiene is a certain set of practices meant to promote the best quality rest each night, and it works. Sleeping well requires more than just time; it takes the right environment and habits to allow your body enough time to cycle through the most recuperative stages of sleep. By practicing proper sleep hygiene, you’ll enjoy the numerous benefits of a good night’s rest more easily and more often.

Sleep Hygiene Step 1: Maintain the Right Environment

It may seem obvious that it’s important to have a comfortable, quiet and dark area to get your sleep. However, this may cause us to take for granted just how valuable environment can be. Take a look at the lighting when you sleep. Is there a steady, bright beam from a streetlamp sneaking into your room? Perhaps you like to leave the light on in another room? Circadian rhythm is a kind of internal clock developed over time to coincide with the intervals of light and dark in our daily routine, i.e., day and night. Consciously, you may know it’s night, but the inner workings of your brain can associate any light with day, making it more difficult to fall asleep and easier to be woken up. Worse still, sleeping with too much light on can actually add stress.

It’s also important to avoid artificial light before bed. Light, going back to your circadian rhythm for a moment, stimulates you. The bluish light of computer screens, televisions, smartphones, etc., in particular, because of its short wavelengths, causes alertness in your body. Good for productivity, maybe, but not so much for relaxation. Also, while it may be expensive, investing in a quality mattress will pay you dividends for years to come. If you always wake up sore or poorly rested from your mattress, you’re constantly missing out on the best parts of sleep.

Step 2: Avoid Stimulants

Studies have shown that caffeine can adversely affect our ability to sleep even when ingested 6 hours before bedtime. Avoiding sodas, chocolate, coffee or tea after dinner allows your body to settle down. Caffeine is not the only disruptive stimulant to avoid, however; you should also limit any consumption of nicotine and alcohol. It’s true. Alcohol messes up your sleep. You may fall asleep easier, sure, but when your body is metabolizing the alcohol later, your sleep cycles will be screwed up resulting in fragmented sleep. In fact, a lack of quality sleep is one of the main reasons why hangovers can feel so awful.

Step 3: Stay Regular

Sticking to a regular routine of when you go to sleep and for how long will help your body maintain its natural rhythm and make the whole process smoother and more efficient. Of course, exactly how much sleep you should be getting can vary from person to person. If you spend most of your day inside, you should make time to get outside for a bit. Sunlight helps increase production of vitamin D in your body, for one. But it also lets your body know when it’s day, making it easier to sleep at night when the sunlight is absent.

Step 4: Don’t Eat Right Before Bed

If you are having trouble sleeping already, adding new dishes to your diet can actually disrupt sleep. You may want to steer clear of the new Thai restaurant for a little while.

Step 5: Work Out

Staying active leads to a vast array of benefits, not least of which is sleeping more easily and more soundly. It’s one reason that the Olumia Life program works so well: we use the interconnectedness of your body’s total health to bolster individual areas. Exercise is already good for you, and helping you sleep better is just one more benefit to take advantage of.

Improving on Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is just a normal practice for getting the best possible sleep each night. Problems can still arise, requiring more refined methods of achieving regular, quality rest. Olumia Life uses various methods of behavioral therapy to help raise your Sleep level and improve your overall health. You can find more information on behavioral therapy in the Sleep section and Compass of the Olumia Life app.

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