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Six Steps to Better Sleep Hygiene

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How much sleep do you get each night? If it’s 5 to 6.5 hrs., you may not be getting enough. A Harvard School study involving more than 82,000 nurses referenced in an article I recently read cites those who slept fewer than 6 hrs showed an increased risk of illness and even death.

Studies have shown not getting enough sleep can cause your immunity to be compromised, you have increased chance of gaining weight. You’ve heard of it called Beauty Sleep. Well, it’s true. Not getting enough sleep can cause those bags and puffiness under your eyes to develop. Sleep is your body’s way of recharging and repairing itself. While you sleep, you body is hard at work processing all that you took in during the day.

Especially during cold and flu season, it’s important to get enough sleep, be active during the day, and eat (and drink) healthy. While many people feel they can get by on less than 7 hours of sleep, statistically speaking the majority of adults need 7 to 10 hours each night.

With that in mind, it’s important to develop good sleep hygiene. What’s that you ask? Doctors recommend that you:
• Go to bed and wake at the same times every day (avoid sleeping-in on days off).
• Use your bed for only sleep or sex.
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine in the afternoon and evening.
• Avoid working out too close to bedtime.
• Get up and do something soothing (read, listen to soft music, write in a journal, etc.) if you are still awake 20-30 minutes after going to bed.
• Call your doctor if you think you have a sleep problem.

If you are sleepy during the day, then you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. I did an informal poll of some friends and found that most of us are “bad” sleepers.

• We go to bed too late, and wake too early.
• We love to have a nightcap drink before bed, which studies have found could disrupt sleep, causing possible waking during the night.
• We drink coffee, and Diet Coke® too late in the day.
• We watch TV, or do work in bed.
• We sleep with snorers, who cause us to take too long to fall asleep and often wake us up during the night.
• We have kids and pets that often wake us during the night.

Add a Comment5 Comments

This article really caught my attention! Sleep hygiene! Who would've thought, and what a great way to put it. Your tips give insight for people who may overlook the little things about why they're not feeling rested.

January 20, 2010 - 8:50am
HERWriter Guide

Great information, Christine!
I once worked for a company that had soft drink vending machines on every floor, and encouraged employees to drink free caffeinated beverages all day. At first it seemed like a treat, but then I developed multiple problems, including not being able to get to sleep. I stopped drinking soft drinks and the problems stopped too.
Seems like they might need some kind of warning label on them. :-)

January 14, 2010 - 6:38pm

The message of this article is really important, and I wish more people would read this article and take it to heart.

I'm pretty sensitive to these issues, running a tea website, as tea is a major source of caffeine. Our modern society is under-slept and over-caffeinated, and I think it makes a difference when people draw attention to the importance of sleep because there are such strong messages everywhere that imply that it's ok to carelessly lose or fall behind on sleep.

I recently added an article on Tea and Sleep to RateTea.net. There are some interesting points relating to tea and sleep in there, if anyone is interested. In particular, tea disrupts sleep less than coffee, mainly because it contains less caffeine. There are also a number of herbal teas that have benefits in terms of sleep and relaxation. Enjoy, and sleep well!

January 14, 2010 - 1:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

Good Article..I am a shift worker that works the overnight shift. I have to be strict about my sleeping (which generally I am) but the harder part is the eating! :(

January 14, 2010 - 6:29am
EmpowHER Guest

Good article. Most people don't realize that caffeine can stay in your system for several hours, so those coffees you drink during the morning and afternoon can still be affecting you by bedtime. Also too much caffeine can cause the heart rate to increase which could also have a detrimental effect on sleep. Since caffeine is essentially a drug, we should respect it and not drink coffee indiscriminately.

January 13, 2010 - 9:51pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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