Getting enough quality sleep may be the most important thing we can do for our health. As I’ve written previously, the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute says that there are four primary things to focus on for health and wellness and sleep is the most important thing, followed by good nutrition, then resistance training, and lastly cardio.
Practicing good habits around sleep is known as having good sleep hygiene. According to the Sleep Foundation, having “strong sleep hygiene means having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and building healthy habits during the day can all contribute to ideal sleep hygiene.”
Here are the habits sleep experts recommend that we follow for good sleep hygiene:
1. Go to bed around the same time every night and wake up around the same time each morning (even on weekends). Schedule your bedtime and waking time so that you can get at least 7 hours of shuteye.
2. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but after it wears off it interferes with sleep cycles, so for a better night’s sleep, lay off the sauce!
3. No caffeine after about 2 pm.
4. Use your bed and bedroom only for sleeping (and amorous activities). It’s best not to have a TV in your bedroom. Definitely don’t have a foosball table!
5. Don’t use electronic screens for at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light from the devices interferes with your body’s sleep signals. You can also try blue-light blocking glasses. I bought some from here: Eyebuydirect. Also, Warby Parker has blue light blocking lenses.
6. Dim the lights in your bedroom an hour or so prior to bedtime to help your mind adjust to getting sleepy.
7. Keep your bedroom really dark while you sleep. Optimally, you shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face.
8. Keep your bedroom cool – below at least 70 degrees (66 degrees is optimal).
9. Exercise during the day — exercise can make it easier to sleep at night
10. Don’t eat a late meal.
11. If you take a nap, shoot for no later than the early afternoon and keep it short — preferably 20-30 minutes.
12. Taking a warm bath right before bed can help you fall asleep. As we are ready to fall asleep our bodies are typically experiencing the greatest drop in temperature. This is why having a hot shower or bath before bed is sleep-inducing – the rapid cooling off that occurs afterward is a sleep signal to your body.
13. If you have trouble falling asleep initially or you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, try the relaxing breath.
14. Use a fan, air purifier, or white noise machine to drown out ambient sounds like sirens, helicopters, traffic noise, or people walking around in the house making noise (like putting away dishes at night).
Does your mind race as you try to fall asleep? One sleep expert I heard at a conference suggested keeping a notepad on your nightstand and just before you turn out the light write down what you are worrying about and then tell yourself you’ve recorded it and will deal with it tomorrow. The act of writing it down will free you to put your worries behind you and fall asleep.
Some research suggests that taking CBD oil before bed can help your sleep. Personally, I’ve been taking CBD oil and I think it helps my sleep.
Since June I’ve been using an Oura ring to track my activity and sleep. The NBA has provided one for each of its players to track their health. Supposedly, it is the most accurate sleep tracker. Being on a finger allows a much more accurate heart rate reading. It also monitors temperature, heart rate variability, and respiratory rate. Here’s a screenshot of part of this morning’s dashboard – the top number is my “readiness” and the bottom number is my sleep score (there’s a lot more data if you drill into the sub-menus).