Sleep is a fundamental aspect and practice of our life, which allows us to live healthy lives, rest, stay energetic, perform at their best in our daily lives, and maintain a positive mood.
However, many people suffer from sleep problems, such as insomnia (the most common sleep disorder), recurring awakenings, or unresponsive sleep. But … How to sleep well? In this article, we’ll take a look at different sleep hygiene guidelines that can help you get better rest.
How to sleep well: 9 key ideas
Sleep soundly, probably what we all want. There are people who are very easy to do this, and others who are not (it also depends a lot on the times in which we live); it’s a problem, because the consequences of not getting enough rest take a heavy toll on both the health and the psychological skills we use every day.
Sleep hygiene is a concept that encompasses all these measures aimed at making it easier to fall asleep and sleep better at night (more deeply and in a more restful way).
So how do you sleep soundly? Here you will find several very useful sleep hygiene guidelines. As you can see, they are mainly focused on better natural sleep which is linked to deeper and more restful rest.
1. Practical exercises
Exercise is one of the measures that is part of sleep hygiene techniques. Exercise improves health and can also make you sleep more soundly. A key idea, in this sense, is to practice an exercise routine every day, in the middle of the afternoon.
Exercises may vary from person to person (in terms of intensity, difficulty and type of exercise), depending on your physical condition and age. The important thing here is to establish a daily exercise routine that tires our body and which facilitates more restful sleep at night.
Surely this has happened to you, being for a long time “doing nothing” (playing sports), and feeling inactive, without being in good shape. And back then, sleep must have cost you more (especially if you already had sleep problems). Instead, when we become active, our rest improves.
On the other hand, insist at this stage on the fact that the exercise cannot be very close to bedtime (better before 8 p.m.), and that it should not be excessively intense (because overactivation will make it difficult for you to do so). sleep). And the power to relax).
2. Do not drink liquids two hours before bedtime
Many people who suffer from insomnia or who don’t get good rest tend to get up several times during the night.; either because they are awake and don’t want to be in bed, or because they have (and this is much more common) to go to the bathroom.
This is why the second key idea on how to get a sound sleep that we offer is to avoid consuming fluids at least two hours before going to bed. This will help you not feel like going to the bathroom so much and will prevent you from flushing at night.
3. Avoid large dinners
Another key idea on how to sleep well is directly related to food, especially dinner.
If we ate very heavy (hearty) meals high in calories and fat, it is likely that our digestive system has a harder time digesting all of these foods, Which in turn can make you feel discomfort at night and lighten you up.
In this sense, we suggest that you opt for light dinners (for example, a salad of grilled fish), which will aid digestion and may help you sleep better.
4. Avoid caffeine consumption
Caffeine is a substance that belongs to the xanthine group, which wakes us up and activates us. Consuming it during the first half of the day shouldn’t cause us any problems at night.But from 6 p.m. we recommend that you do not consume this substance.
On another side, there are people who notice the effects of caffeine more (And that these last longer), so if this is your case, ideally do not take this substance, or try to reduce its consumption as much as possible. And, in case you took it, better in the morning.
The effect of caffeine (which is also found in other drinks besides coffee, like some energy drinks) is antagonistic to the effect we need when we want to relax and fall asleep, so stop consuming can help you sleep better (and more soundly).
5. Avoid alcohol
Another tip for sleeping well is to stop consuming alcohol (or reduce your consumption as much as possible), because this substance too it is closely linked to the appearance of alterations during sleep (Difficulty falling asleep, fragmented and unrepaired sleep, etc.).
In the end, we think that whatever we give to our body, which is “artificial”, will alter our natural functioning, which directly affects our quality of sleep.
6. Relax before bed (techniques)
If your body is relaxed just before bed, your sleep latency (the time it takes to sleep) is more likely to decrease, and more likely, your sleep will be deeper and more restful.
Of course, you can sleep relaxed and wake up at night, or do it and not sleep well (there are all kinds of people and circumstances), but promoting bedtime relaxation, along with other factors, can really help you sleep. better. In this way, There are several techniques that can help you relax:
- Take a warm bath before bed (this will relax your muscles in case they are sore).
- Put on some relaxing music.
- Practice gentle yoga.
- Practice diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing.
7. Use the bed only for sleeping
This strategy, which is also part of the basic measures of sleep hygiene, consists of allowing our brains to use only the bed for sleeping, Using it only for that purpose (i.e. avoiding eating there, watching movies about them, working, doing homework, etc.).
This key idea of how to sleep soundly will help you do just that, sleep better, as your brain will associate bed more quickly with sleep and a state of relaxation. It is a mechanism based on classical conditioning (association of environmental stimuli and physiological responses).
8. Keep your room ventilated and at the right temperature.
It’s a reality that heat can inhibit sleep. That is why it is recommended to always keep the room ventilated, cool and at an appropriate temperature. You need to feel comfortable and calm there for your body to relax. and associate these environmental conditions with sleep. So all of this sets up another metric that can give you a good rest.
9. Control your mind
Finally, another diagram on how to sleep well relates to controlling your thoughts.
Many people, when they go to bed, tend to systematically review everything they have done during the day., Or whatever they have to do tomorrow.
They may also think of past, present, and future worries, or other thoughts that only generate anxiety and discomfort, and make it very difficult to fall asleep (which in turn, makes it difficult for them to fall asleep). can also interfere with deep, restful sleep, although not always).
In these cases, you have to learn to control your mind (difficult task!), Through the practice of the following technique: simply, let your thoughts flow, don’t suppress them but don’t stop at them or turn them around.
Here, you can also apply, in a complementary way, pleasant breathing and picture viewing techniques, to help you focus on something else and relax.
- Merino, M. et al. (2016). Healthy sleep: evidence and guidelines for action. Official document of the Spanish Dream Society, 63 (Suppl. 2).
- Health Technology Assessment Unit. (2009). Get to know and manage insomnia. Information for the patient. Quality plan for the national health system of the Ministry of Health and Social Policy. Clinical practice guidelines in the NHS.
- Dream Unit, Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality. (2011). Quality and safety standards and recommendations. Studies and research reports.