Sleep is something that many of us have a hard time managing at some point in our life yet many of us do not know how to impact sleep in a positive way. Most of us are unaware of the benefits of sleep hygiene improvements especially when it comes to rehabbing an injury. Good sleep hygiene helps to support our immune system, helps with recovery after physical exercise and aids in optimal cognitive functioning. Sleep is critical in getting the most out of your day.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to a series of healthy sleep habits that can aid in your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Considerable research has gone into developing a set of sleep hygiene tips and guidelines. Evidence suggests that these strategies can provide long-term solutions when it comes to sleep optimization and support in insomnia management. Below are tips that I as a Chiropractor based in Langley who specializes in chiropractic health recommend to my clients and use myself on a daily basis to monitor and improve my sleep management.
Sleep Hygiene Tips
Limit Screen Time
More and more we are becoming connected with technology with screens, often we don’t think about how this might affect us in our daily lives. It is important to reduce screen time throughout the day but more importantly as we are winding down for bed. But Why is this?
Our biological clock follows a 24hr sleep-wake cycle. In the morning when the sun rises, our bodies produce cortisol to make us feel awake and alert. As the day weens and daylight starts to fade, the body releases a hormone called “melatonin” that produces the feeling of sleepiness. Electronic Backlit devices and fluorescent/LED lights in buildings emit blue light, which has been shown to reduce the natural production of melatonin leaving us feeling less sleepy. Blue light can also decrease your cognitive functioning recovery via inhibition of REM/Slow-wave sleep. Kids are more susceptible to this.
So…. Try to ditch the devices before bed, use night mode when you can and make your bedroom a screen-free environment.
Get a regular Schedule
Something that is underestimated when it comes to our sleep hygiene is being consistent with our sleep schedule. One of the best ways to train our internal clock is by going to bed and getting up the same time every day, even on weekends and days off! This will help you avoid that “Monday Morning sleep hangover” and improve your overall well-being.
By being consistent with your sleep schedule your body can regulate and compensate for its sleep more naturally. Let’s say you didn’t sleep well the night before by training your internal clock the external sleep drive will help establish sleep the following night.
Sleep When Tired
We all know the feeling when we are tossing and turning in bed and can’t seem to fall asleep, often people tend to tough it out and lay in bed until their busy mind gives in and falls asleep.
It’s important that you try to go to sleep when you feel tired and if you aren’t tired then you need to look at your routine earlier in the day. If you haven’t been able to sleep for about 20 mins or more then try to get up and do something calming and quiet until you start to feel tired and then try to return to bed again. Examples of this could be sitting on the couch with the lights off, doing some gentle stretches, or reading a book could be helpful. Just try not to do anything too stimulating or interesting as this may wake you up even more. Most importantly stay off your phone!
Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep
As anyone who frequents drinking coffee knows that, caffeine is a stimulant that can inherently keep you awake. Many people don’t realize that there is caffeine is a lot more than just coffee such as tea, chocolate, soda pops, supplements. Read the labels and try to avoid consuming these products 4-6 hours before bedtime. Similarly, smokers should refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime.
It is also bed to avoid drinking alcohol 4-6 hours before bed as well, it well believed that alcohol is relaxing and helps with sleep. This is true but what people don’t know is that after a few hours it acts as a stimulant resulting in a higher number of awakenings and an overall decrease in quality of sleep later in the night. This cuts into our recovery effort that occurs when we have high-quality sleep.
Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine
Developing a unique and individual sleep ritual is a great way to signal to your body when it should and should not be asleep, a bit of a reminder for the body. Going to sleep at the same time is also a key part of this.
Try to ease the transition from waketime to sleep time with a series of relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for 15 minutes prior to bed. Guided Body scans or gentle yoga are great examples. Light reading before bed is also a good way to prepare yourself to sleep.
Taking a bath or having a cup of (non-caffeinated tea) can also help to signal to the body its time to sleep as we tend to get drowsy when there is a rise and fall in body temperature).
Avoid stressful stimulating activities like doing work, discussing emotional/psychologically stressful issues can promote the release of cortisol.
Regular exercise can help you receive sleep more soundly and fall asleep faster on a more consistent basis. Keep in mind that timing does matter, it is best to avoid strenuous exercise 4 hours before bed. Exercise can signal the body to get rid of stress hormones from the body such as cortisol. Cortisol helps activate the alerting mechanism of the brain and can control your sleep/wake cycles. Exercise early in the day is a great way to kick of your daily flow.
Talk to your Health Professional @ Rebound Sport and Spine in Langley BC about how sleep might be impacting your recovery and pain levels.