How To Sleep Better Sleep Hygiene That You Need To Know - Health

How To Sleep Better: Sleep Hygiene That You Need To Know   by Philip Tsang

in Health    (submitted 2008-07-25)

Sleeplessness is a problem that affects many people. Are you one of them? If you want to know how to sleep better, learn more about sleep hygiene. Your sleep hygiene can have a big impact on how well you sleep. If you can put into practice a few of the following tips, you could be well on your way to more restful sleep.

Sleep hygiene is related to four different areas: a person's circadian cycle, their age, stress factors they might be facing, and the amount of caffeine, nicotine or alcohol they may be consuming.

The circadian cycle refers to the regular, cyclic changes that occur in our bodies during each 24-hour period. People who are blessed with a steady, relatively unchanging circadian rhythm tend to sleep well. However, several things can upset or alter your circadian cycle. Exercise, exposure to light, naps and other activities can all have a positive or negative effect.

Sleep requirements change with age. Infants need as much as 16 to 20 hours of sleep every day, while adults usually do well in the range of seven to nine hours. Sleep patterns often change significantly above age 40. Increasing age tends to bring on poorer quality sleep and less consistent sleep patterns.

Most people endure a great deal of stress in their lives. One key to getting a good night's sleep is learning how to effectively manage stress. If you try to go to bed while still dealing with the negative emotions of the day, it's almost certain that you won't be able to sleep well. You must learn the mental techniques necessary to suspend worrying about the stressful issues at work or home. Facing difficulties with a fresh perspective the next day may help you deal with them more effectively than simply worrying about them all night.

You may find it helpful to practice simple meditation techniques. Some people report good results from listening to relaxing music.

Finally, your sleep patterns can be negatively affected by nicotine, alcohol or caffeine. You are probably aware that caffeine is a stimulant. However, many people don't know that the effects of caffeine can make sleep difficult for six hours or more after ingesting it. Going to sleep and staying asleep are both affected. So both sleep quantity and quality are lowered. Nicotine acts in a similar way. It is true that nicotine in small quantities can act as a sedative. But high quantities almost always lead to sleeplessness.

Many people swear that alcohol is a sedative. However, when your body metabolizes alcohol, it creates a stimulant. So even if alcohol helps you sleep initially, you're very likely to awaken later. These middle-of-the-night awakenings can cause headaches and sweating. Things get even worse if you combine nicotine and caffeine. This combination not only has adverse effects on your sleeping patterns, but also makes you tired and groggy when you wake up.

Your sleep hygiene is a good place to start if you want to know how to sleep better. If the tips above don't completely do the trick, there are still more safe and effective alternatives for you to try.