As much as sleep is controlled internally, it is influenced by many events that occur externally. It is therefore possible for a person to develop sleeping habits that influence sleep positively. Good sleeping habits help reinforce the pattern that is already there naturally.
Sleeping Habits: Misconceptions
Most people think that their sleeping problems could be solved by sleeping on time and for longer hours. While this is partly true, the quality of sleep matters a lot. It is possible to sleep for 8 hours and enjoy sleep more than a person who sleeps for more than 11 hours.
Sleep follows the circadian rhythm which is controlled by day and light. The circadian rhythm can be reinforced by sleeping and waking up at the same time everyday. In today’s world, sleeping at around 9 or 10 and waking up at 6 or 7 would be good hours.
You can also train your mind to sleep a bit longer at weekends. Training your mind to learn this sleeping habit involves going to bed at your chosen time but more importantly, forcing yourself to wake up at the desired time. Your mind should learn this habit within 21 or so days.
Important Sleeping Habits
One of the most important sleeping habits is to do an activity/ritual just before you sleep. These habits help to remind your mind that it is time to sleep. Here are some examples of some sleeping habits that can be done before bedtime:
- Kissing/calling your loved one and saying good night.
- Having sex.
- Brushing your teeth.
- Listening to a song.
- Watching a TV program- preferably not in the bedroom.
- Reading a book.
- Drinking water.
- Going to the bathroom
Ideally, bedtime sleeping habits should not engage the mind. In addition, they should be short. The idea here is to relax the mind. Bedtime sleeping habits are known reduce the chances of waking up at night.
You should also develop sleeping habits that affect your sleeping environment. You can do this by switching off the light in the bedroom at the same time everyday. In addition, you should switch on the lights as soon as you wake up.
Production of an important hormone for sleep- melatonin– is turned on by darkness and switched off by exposure to daylight. Bright light in the bedroom decreases the production of melatonin that can lead to sleeping difficulties.
The other important sleeping habits are those that train the mind to associate the bedroom with sleep and sex…… sleep and sex only. This mean that all items like computers, T.Vs, music systems should be kept away from the bedroom. Ideally, your bedroom should not remind of your work environment.
Good sleeping habits are also tied in to when you take your food. First of all, food should be kept away from the bedroom. Food should be taken at least 3 hours before going to bed. This gives your body time to digest food and possibly excrete it before you sleep. This would ensure that you do not wake up to go to the wash room at night. In addition, it makes you hungry when you wake up – breakfast is the most important meal!!
Other sleeping habits include:
- Exercising at least 5 hours before bedtime.
- You last dose of any type of caffeine should be at around 4 pm.