Do You Have Good Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is defined as any behaviors, rituals, habits, or regular activities you follow around and before sleep. According to the World Health Organization, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. do not get adequate sleep (less than 7 hours) on a regular basis. Studies into the relationship between sleep and the microbiome are increasingly showing a close connection between gastrointestinal health and brain health. Disruption of this internal microbial system can affect sleep by altering the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, which help to both promote sleep and regulate mood. Probiotics and prebiotics can help to restore and maintain microbial balance, aiding in digestion therefore increasing your chances of getting quality sleep.
Good Sleep Hygiene Habits
Quality regular sleep is crucial in maintaining balanced emotional, mental, and physical health. Practicing good sleep hygiene is an easy step to take toward improving your sleep quality and health. It is important to recognize and acknowledge how much sleep you need. The average adult requires around 7-7.5 hours of good sleep per night, but this can vary slightly from person to person so listening to your body is paramount. Avoiding bedtime procrastination and getting up at the same time each day are vital habits to practice for good sleep hygiene. Setting an alarm for the same time each morning and getting up with it even if you have an off night or your sleep isn’t great will help the body maintain its natural sleep-wake cycle which will aid in falling asleep long-term.
Eating well and supplementing when necessary is also an integral part of good sleep hygiene. While it may be difficult to fall asleep on a completely empty stomach, eating a meal a few hours prior to bedtime or having a small snack before bed should be sufficient. The more nutritious your diet is, the better quality sleep you will encourage. More helpful still, are foods that are not only healthy, but actually promote sleep. Natural supplementation for better sleep is easier on the body than OTC sleep aids (drugs) which, while they will knock you out, tend to leave you worse off in the morning. What needs to be known is that internal pH balance affects wakefulness (acidic) or sleepiness (alkaline), and for that we must understand our Metabolic Type.
Supplements such as Melatonin, Valerian Root, and Magnesium in particular are natural, gentle alternatives that can also benefit your body as a whole and help to maintain its sleep/wake cycle. According to the World Health Organization, as much as 75% of the US adult population doesn’t meet the FDA’s daily recommended intake (420mg) of magnesium, which is an essential nutrient for blood vessel health, muscle relaxation, heart rhythm, relaxation and sleep, among many other vital bodily activities.
Bad Sleep Hygiene Can Have Lasting Effects
We know about the benefits of good sleep, but sleep deprivation can have lasting negative effects on our physical and mental health. Sleep plays a critical role in learning, and thinking. Lack of sleep negatively affects concentration, alertness, and attention and the consolidation of memories, which can make it difficult to retain learned information. Lack of sleep over time can contribute to disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes and it is estimated that close to 90% of people who struggle with insomnia also live with another health condition.
Not as well known, is that lack of sleep can greatly affect your sex drive and fertility, and can lead to low testosterone levels in men. Dedicating the bed to sleep and sex only can help the mind subconsciously connect being in bed with sleeping.
Following a healthy bedtime routine that includes any or all of the following can get you on your way to getting quality sleep faster than you think: deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) techniques, aromatherapy, nightly supplements, and turning off of all electronics at least an hour prior to bedtime.