You’ve probably been there. Darkness is all around, everything is calm, and you can hear the sound of crickets outside. The problem is that it’s the middle of the night, and you can’t fall asleep.
Proverbs 3:24 (NIV) says, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
Yet, that ever-so-sweet sleep also requires good sleep hygiene. This article will tell you what sleep hygiene is and how you can improve it so that you can lie down and finally get a good night’s rest.
Sleep hygiene means having an environment and daily routines that promote sound, restful, and uninterrupted sleep.
It’s not just external factors but internal ones as well that contribute to good sleep. As melatonin levels naturally climb in the evening, your body goes into sleep mode.
Age, medical conditions, mental health, medications, and the environment all affect our sleep-wake cycles. So, it’s so important to have good sleep hygiene.
Good sleep hygiene involves building a consistent bedtime routine. It includes a set of behaviors and habits that prepare your body for good sleep.
It’s not as simple as hitting the bed and then waiting to fall asleep. Rather, sleep hygiene is a routine that begins early in the evening. When sleep hygiene is done right, sleep will beckon, and you will be off to dreamland until the sun comes up.
Having good sleep hygiene does require effort, though.
To help you build good sleep hygiene, here are a few tips.
Take the time to review your evening schedule.
Do you have a bedtime routine and regular sleep schedule? Or do you sleep late most nights and find yourself “catching up” on the weekend? When you find it difficult to sleep, what do you do? Do you sleep at the same time every day? Do you wake up at the same time every day? What’s your chronotype?
These are important questions to ask yourself because consistent sleep is the key to good sleep hygiene.
Consistently having a regular sleep time and wake-up time builds a good sleep schedule that falls in sync with your circadian rhythm typology or internal clock.
Alcohol and caffeine are stimulants. While you may think nipping off a scotch before bed makes you tired, it actually affects Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep — the stage in which you get restful sleep.
As a result, you will be tired and experience daytime sleepiness the next day.
Studies have shown that drinking about 400g of coffee up to six hours before bed can disrupt sleep. It can also cause chronic insomnia. So say no to that nightcap or late cup of coffee and switch to hot chocolate instead. The tryptophan in raw cocoa will make you sleepy and happy.
Today, many people have TVs in their bedrooms. If not a TV, they might have a Kindle, a phone, or even a laptop.
You watch one, then another, and pretty soon, you’ve spent 40 minutes absorbing the blue light emitted by electronic devices.
So what’s the big deal? You’ve had a long day, and you want to relax.
The thing is, blue light inhibits the release of melatonin. Remember that hormone mentioned earlier that makes you sleepy? Without that melatonin, your body fails to go into that pre-sleep stage, thereby delaying your cycle.
Turn off your television, phones, and other electronic devices a good hour before trying to sleep. If you are listening to an audiobook or video, make sure it is not emitting any light. Put in earphones and switch off the display as you prepare for bed.
If you have a set time for bed, don’t get under the sheets unless you’re sleepy.
It's only natural for us to crawl into bed once it's bedtime. However, if you’re not sleeping, you're going to get anxious.
You’ll toss and turn, stare at that ceiling, count sheep, or even turn to your phone. Your mind is more active than ever, which is not conducive to restful sleeping.
Studies have shown that oxygen enrichment reduces sleep disruptions, provides quality sleep, and improves well-being.
You can enrich your bedroom with oxygen by keeping oxygenating bedroom plants. Now, most plants emit carbon dioxide at night, but that is not the case for plants like mother-in-law’s tongue, areca palm, and pothos.
These are natural air purifiers that add oxygen to your bedroom and absorb any volatile organic compounds emitted by paint or furniture.
How noisy is your bedroom or sleep environment? If you live close to a road or have noisy neighbors, a good night’s rest will depend on your ability to control that noise.
Adding a carpet and thick drapes can regulate noise, allowing for a good night’s sleep. And if all else fails, wear earplugs to bed.
No one is saying no to naps. In fact, studies have shown that napping during the daytime boosts brainpower and memory.
However, this golden period is between 20 and 90 minutes. The shorter the power nap, the better it is.
Anything over 90 minutes will make you more sluggish and affect your night-time sleep. Also, these naps must be before 4 p.m. Anything later will delay your sleep cycle at night.
Here are some questions to consider that can help improve your quality of sleep.
To improve poor sleep hygiene, you must make your bedroom more comfortable. If you’re experiencing back pain, consider changing out your mattress, as it is likely the culprit.
Similarly, your bedroom environment needs to be comfortable. Is it a place you look forward to resting in?
Small details like clutter, odors, cleanliness, bright light, and sounds can affect your sleep. Also, maintaining a pleasant bedroom temperature will help create a comfortable sleeping environment.
Most people find it hard to switch off completely. To help, try blocking all social media and email notifications until the morning.
Do you respond to every late-night text message or phone, no matter how trivial? These are disruptions that prevent you from sleeping. Unplug yourself from this mental stimulation for a more restful sleep.
Reading and praying are two relaxing activities that help your mind unwind after a long day. However, keep a chair beside your bed for such activities and use your bed only for sleeping.
To promote healthy sleep habits, your brain should associate the bed with sleeping. That means you should do everything else outside of it.
Regular exercise gets us moving and gets us tired.
For the many who work office jobs, sitting for hours on end can be mentally tiring, but physically your body is still fresh. Then, when you head to bed at night, your mind is yearning for rest while your body is still going.
Exercise can improve sleep and prevent insomnia or other sleep disorders.
It’s important to have an established bedtime routine that is ironclad. If it’s not, then every so often, you will find yourself staying up late to finish a project, saying yes to a late dinner out with friends, or watching another episode of your favorite show.
Once you have a routine, stick to it. Studies show that you cannot catch up on lost sleep. What’s gone is gone.
One of the major reasons we have trouble sleeping is because we’re anxious. It’s only natural to be worried about tomorrow and all the problems waiting for us.
In Mark 4:38, when the disciples suddenly encounter a storm on a boat while Jesus sleeps, they wake him up frantically, saying, “Master do you not care, that we are perishing?” They are full of fear, even though the Messiah is in their boat.
Jesus calms the storms by saying, “Peace, be still.”
He says the same to the storms in your life too. He’s in your boat. Can you truly surrender in faith and rest in Him?
While these tips can help you get better sleep, no one but God can truly calm your anxiety, alleviate your heavy-laden burdens, and soothe your crushed spirit. Submitting to God in prayer and nourishing your soul through His life-giving word in bedtime Bible stories are some ways to do so.
After all, it's our eternal shepherd who, according to Psalms 23:2 (NIV), “makes us lie down in green pastures.” If you are looking to build a daily bedtime Bible studying routine or find inspiration, try us for free.