Sleep Hygiene: Do we really respect each other to give ourselves a restful sleep? Bad habits often negatively affect the quality and quantity of our sleep. We must learn to follow some simple rules to protect this sphere of our life which is fundamental for our well-being.
Preparing to go to sleep is a practice that does not belong to many because, luckily, some can sleep even standing up, but for many, it should become a ritual if there are difficulties in falling asleep or sleep is interrupted frequently.
In fact, sleep hygiene means simple rules of good behavior to promote night rest.
Insomnia or sleep difficulties can be traced back to many different causes, which can be investigated with the help of specific tests such as polysomnography.
In the meantime, however, we see some simple instructions to improve falling asleep and prolong a good restful sleep.
Sleep hygiene starts in the bedroom.
The environment in which we sleep must be devoted almost exclusively to relaxation and rest.
- Disturbing elements, such as electronic instruments such as televisions, computers, and mobile phones, are sources that produce electromagnetic pollution and stimulate the activity of the waking brain waves. According to Feng Shui, we shouldn’t even keep books in the bedroom because, for this discipline, the written words are full of energy that interferes with the rest of our minds!
- The room temperature must promote muscle relaxation and slow down some vegetative functions, such as heart rate and breathing. 16 ° / 17 ° C would be optimum; on the contrary, temperatures that are too hot can cause dry mouth, breathing difficulties, and stress upon awakening.
- The lighting must be practically nil in order not to disturb falling asleep. Furthermore, the darkness favors the secretion of Melatonin by the pineal gland. We now know Melatonin is a regulating hormone of our sleep/wake cycle with a sedative effect. If, on the other hand, beams of light reach the retina, the epiphysis would inhibit its secretion: so let’s remember to sleep in the dark!
- The mattress is a fundamental element: choosing the proper support for our back allows us to sleeping better without the risk of being awakened by lumbar pain, contractures, and poor posture problems. We avoid mattresses that are too soft, with metal springs, and unbalanced in the areas of greatest bearing.
Sleep hygiene also starts with nutrition.
- ” I have dinner left on my stomach; I can’t sleep .” In the evening, we must avoid binges that are difficult to digest. Combining the right foods and banning associations between carbohydrates and animal proteins, sweets and fruit, vegetables and cheeses, coffee and milk: they change the times and ways of digesting dinner because they use different enzymes.
- Alcohol or spirits drunk in the evening increase vasodilation and create a kind of numbness that seems to favor falling asleep. Subsequently, however, the effects of the hangover, if there is one, are easily imaginable: headache, dark circles, feeling of mental confusion, and general tiredness because our body has been overexcited.
- We prefer warm and relaxing herbal teas, which promote digestion and relaxation of the central nervous system and accompany us toward sleep.
Sleep hygiene also includes our evening activities.
- We avoid playing sports in the evening: we trigger the production of adrenaline which increases our physical and mental performance at the expense of sleep. Instead, we favor relaxing activities such as watching a good movie or reading a book.
- Be careful not to doze off on the sofa in front of the television. When we get up to go to bed, we often struggle to sleep, and nervousness, worries, and anxieties enter the field.
- A hot bath is a cure-all but not close to the time you want to sleep. In fact, after a bath, our body often has a sauna-effect reaction, and we feel a slight discomfort in the legs due to vasodilation. It is sufficient to conclude the cleansing with a quick cold shower on the lower limbs, starting from the feet and going up towards the thighs: this practice helps us to tone the venous circulation and to retain the warm temperature.
- We always try to go to bed simultaneously: this favors a regular sleep/wake rhythm because we accustom our body to the right alternation. Even during the weekend, we should avoid getting up too late in the morning even if we are “the small hours”: this allows us not to tire waking up on Monday morning and not to start the week in a bad mood!
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