WHAT IS SLEEP HYGIENE AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOUR HEALTH?

Sleep is essential to your health and vitality and without enough sleep you would not be able to perform tasks effectively and efficiently. Sleep hygiene refers to habits and behaviors that make it conducive to have good nights rest regularly.

 

Our sleep habits affect us greatly; many of us sleep for 7- 8 hours and still wake up feeling tired. Sleep is as essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise and the goal is to have that refreshing feeling we get when we wake up every single time.

 

It is intriguing to know that bad sleep habits have negative effects on your health. How is that possible?

 

Poor sleep habits have negative effects on the effectiveness of exercise, levels of hormones in the body and brain function. It can also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases as one grows older, with a significant association with weight gain and problems with posture.

 

BAD SLEEP HABITS

  • Poor sleeping posture
  • Vigorous physical or mental exercise close to bedtime
  • Consumption of drugs like alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine close to bedtime
  • Using the bed for purposes other than sleep and sex
  • Lack of a regular sleep schedule
  • Eating large meals close to bedtime
  • Sleeping in a very noisy, cold, or hot environment.
  • Using gadgets like cellphones, laptops and watching TV at bedtime affects the quality and quantity of your sleep.

The light from the screens of these gadgets can cause poor sleep. You may also sleep on these gadgets and wake up with body aches.

 

FACTORS THAT AFFECT OUR SLEEP HABITS

Weather

During the hot season, the bedroom becomes hot making you sweat a lot and during the cold weather, you tend to wake up more at night to urinate (nocturia). They affect the quality and quantity of your sleep.

 

Bed quality

The type of mattress you sleep on has a role to play as it can affect your sleep posture and your body structure. While preference for soft or firm mattresses is taking into consideration, a firm mattress is generally preferable.

 

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia amongst others can make our sleeping pattern distorted.

 

Stress

Stress in form of emotional stress, physical stress and mental stress can affect the quality and quantity of our sleep. Emotional and mental stress can cause insomnia and make us eat more. Physical stress makes affects our sleep posture and quantity of sleep.

 

Daily activities

Our everyday activities and work can make us have bad sleep habits. It can make us eat heavy before bed, affect our sleeping posture, and make us tired. People whose work requires significant manual labor are more prone to eat heavy meals at night, drink more alcohol and have tiresome sleep.

 

Food and drinks

Drinks like caffeine improve focus and make you active for most part of the day; however, taking caffeine at night can make you lose your sleep. It takes about 6hours for caffeine to be completely removed from the body. Also, taking caffeine during the day without drinking enough water can cause headache which can also affect the quality of your sleep.

Alcohol might make you feel good and fall asleep quickly, but as the effect wears off, your sleep pattern becomes disrupted and chaotic. You will feel tired and worn-out when you finally wake up in the morning.

 

Drugs

Some drugs like antihypertensives and antipsychotics can affect the quality of your sleep and make you feel tired after waking up. For example, taking Furosemide at night will make you urinate frequently at night causing frequent sleep interruptions and reducing sleep quantity.

 

TIPS FOR HEALTHY SLEEP

  • Avoid screen lights before sleep
  • Remove all gadgets from your bed space before sleeping. Be sure to put your phones, iPads, and power banks away.
  • Avoid taking caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Eat at least 3hours before bed.
  • Supplements like Melatonin, Ginkgo Biloba, lavender, and magnesium can be taken as they improve relaxation and sleep quality in combination with other strategies.
  • Report to your doctor immediately if your drugs affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable for you to sleep easily and wake up refreshed.
  • Use a comfortable mattress and pillow that is convenient for your sleep position.
  • Having a warm bath and shower can help you feel relaxed and sleep well

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