Do you have trouble falling asleep, do you sometimes drift off to sleep in the middle of the night, or maybe you wake up in the morning completely sleep-deprived and find it hard to concentrate during the day? This means that your sleep is ineffective. Fortunately, you can change this by making some important changes to your daily routine. Learn about sleep hygiene rules that will help you get more sleep over time and improve your mood throughout the day.
If you want to sleep well, your bedroom should be comfortable, which means cool, quiet and comfortable. For most people the right temperature for sleeping is between 16 and 20°C. Keep the air humidified by placing a humidifier in your bedroom. Ventilate the room a few minutes before going to bed. The optimum bedroom humidity is 50-60%.
The choice of mattress, pillow and bedding is also important. Nowadays, the choice of mattresses and sleeping textiles is versatile – you’ll find products of different firmness and height to suit your sleeping position and support your head and neck properly. You can use solutions such as a weighted comforter or a pillow with buckwheat. Bedding needs to be washed regularly and the mattress needs to be replaced every 5-10 years.
Loud noises are one of the most common factors disturbing sleep. Vehicles driving down the street, household appliances running at night (e.g. refrigerator, washing machine), falling asleep with the TV or music on – all of these things can have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. So keep your bedroom windows and doors closed, or if possible, soundproof the room to reduce background noise. You also need to avoid falling asleep while watching a TV show or listening to music before bed.
However, the main source of noise in the bedroom is… your partner’s snoring. Studies have shown that 80-90% of people who sleep next to a snorer have difficulty entering REM and deep sleep phases. One solution is to sleep in separate rooms, but this only benefits one party and can have a negative impact on your emotional and physical bonding. For a good night’s sleep for both partners, it is important to address the snoring problem itself, which involves a visit to an ENT specialist for proper diagnosis and effective treatment.
Get rid of anything that might distract you from falling asleep and wake you up: ticking watches, electronic devices with glowing lights. Avoid bright lights before bedtime, and if you have street light coming into your bedroom, consider installing blackout curtains or blinds. It’s also a good idea to refrain from prolonged use of light-emitting screens during the evening hours. One of the key functions of your biological clock, which regulates your circadian rhythm, is the accelerated production of melatonin when it gets dark. Too much light at night can disrupt the secretion of this hormone.
Make sure you eat a healthy diet and have regular meals throughout the day. Don’t go to bed when you are hungry or too full. Avoid heavy meals a few hours before bedtime. Have a light but filling dinner so you don’t feel hungry at night. Limit caffeine intake in the afternoon – in the form of coffee, tea, energy drinks and even chocolate. Its stimulating properties can last up to 6-8 hours and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Remember to hydrate your body properly during the day, but drink less in the late evening. Especially avoid diuretic drinks before bedtime. Limit your alcohol intake – you may feel more sleepy immediately after drinking, but after a few hours alcohol has the opposite effect, interfering with proper sleep.
Spend 7 to 9 hours maximum on sleep. Go to bed and get up at similar times each day. Even on weekends, try to stick to a set schedule. Being consistent about it strengthens your sleep cycle.
If you don’t manage to fall asleep within 20 minutes or so of going to bed, get out of the bedroom and do something to calm you down, such as reading a book or listening to soothing music. But beware – some books can increase brain activity. It is better not to read horror, drama or detective stories before bedtime, but rather light reading. Go back to bed when you feel tired again.
If you decide to take a nap during the day, make it no longer than 30 minutes. After 10-20 minutes of sleep, you’ll wake up refreshed and ready for action. Short naps can sometimes be more effective (and also healthier) than a cup of coffee. After a long nap, you may wake up in a deep sleep phase, in which case you will recover more slowly. Try not to nap in the evening hours, shortly before you go to bed – this can disrupt the rhythm of proper sleep.
Getting the right amount of exercise
Include physical activity in your daily schedule. Not only is it necessary to keep your body in great shape. If you give your body the right amount of exercise throughout the day, you will sleep better. Tai-chi and yoga can be especially beneficial if you have trouble sleeping – they combine physical exercise and relaxation techniques that make it easier to fall asleep. Plan your more intense workouts for the morning hours. In the evening, go for a non-strenuous, several-minute walk outdoors.
Avoid stressful situations during the day, and if that’s not possible, try to resolve them before bed or postpone them until another day. Learn to manage your stress. Start with the basics, such as organization, prioritizing and delegating tasks. Ensure healthy relationships with loved ones. Listen, show gratitude, and build positive communication.
Relaxing rituals, such as taking a bath with natural lavender oil, which has a calming effect, can help reduce stress. Meditating for half an hour before going to bed relaxes and relieves anxiety. Regularly doing calming activities before bed makes it easier to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep.
When do you need a doctor’s help?
A sleepless night can happen to anyone. But if you follow good sleep hygiene habits and still have difficulty falling asleep, wake up during the night, or are very tired in the morning, you may be suffering from a serious condition such as sleep apnea. Ongoing sleep problems over a long period of time should be discussed with your doctor. A proper diagnosis will allow for effective treatment and help improve the quality of your sleep. Your doctor may refer you to a polysomnography test in the hospital, during which you will spend one night in the sleep laboratory connected to specialized equipment analyzing your sleep. Unfortunately, this test is uncomfortable and many patients find it difficult to fall asleep or sleep in a comfortable position, so the results may not be reliable.
At Clebre, we have developed an alternative to in-hospital polysomnography – a smart sensor that allows for convenient sleep studies at home. Its key benefits include: its small size, making it virtually imperceptible during sleep, and the ability to take measurements over multiple days, allowing for more accurate observation of the patient and tailoring personalized, effective treatment.