3 Tips for Healthier Sleep Habits

Most adults feel as though they do not sleep well at some point in their lives.

While assessing sleep habits, it prompted me to think about a topic that is far too often overlooked: Healthy Sleep Habits. Here are three tips to developing healthier sleep habits.

#1 - Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule

A good place to start is to set a consistent bedtime and a consistent wake up time. These times should allow enough time in bed to get an adequate amount of sleep (7.5-8 hours for most adults). Stick to this schedule as much as possible - - - yes, even on the weekend!

Once you know what time you are going to get into bed, plan for the last hour before sleep for quiet activity. Any work, household chores, bathing, etc. should be done prior to this time. This last hour before bedtime is a good time to read or enjoy some other non-stimulating activity.

alarm clock sleep schedule

cell phone in bed

#2 - Put. Your. Phone. Down.

Once in bed, it is time for lights out - - - ALL lights! This means that once you are in bed, the TV, computer, tablet, and cell phone should be turned off. Many people think they sleep well with the TV on, but the eyelids are quite thin and the flickering light does indeed pass through the eyelids and cause a lighter stage of sleep. The variable volume of the TV can cause a lighter sleep as well. If you are used to sleeping with the TV on, you may like some "white noise" such as a fan or white noise app to keep from hearing every sound in the room.

#3 - Snoozing is Losing

When you wake up, it's time to get out of the bed. Avoid the trap of hitting that snooze bar over and over. This is a sign that your sleep schedule needs work. When you go to bed at the right time, you're likely to have an easier time getting up in the mornings. If you get up on time in the mornings, you're likely to have an easier time falling asleep at bedtime. The bed time and wake up time go together like pillows and blankets!

man pressing snooze button while sleeping

Other healthy sleep habits to keep in mind:

The bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet.

Drink alcohol only in moderation before bed. It can help one to fall asleep more quickly, but as the blood alcohol level lowers, the sleep can become quite light and un-refreshing.

Stop caffeine by mid-afternoon. You may be able to fall asleep with caffeine on board, but it's not going to be the deep sleep you need.

I want to challenge everyone to develop these healthy sleep habits for a month. The improvement you will feel will be significant. Of course, if you have healthy sleep habits and you still cannot sleep well or you still feel tired or sleepy during the day, you may have a sleep disorder. Let your health care provider know about any excessive daytime fatigue or sleepiness and discuss any problems with your sleep. Your doctor wants to hear about it because they already know: Sleep is not a luxury - - - it is a necessity for your health! by Kathy Wilson, M.D.