Make these quick changes to your sleep routine for a better night’s rest.
By Stephanie Popso
A good night’s sleep plays a huge role in how we function during the day. Over time, an insufficient amount of sleep will start to affect overall health and wellness. Sleep deprivation is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. In Michigan, long summer days and lengthy driving commutes can wreak havoc on sleep schedules. And, with a change of season on the horizon in Michigan, there’s no better time to revamp your sleep routine.
Try these simple lifestyle changes to improve your sleep hygiene for a good night’s rest:
1. Develop a nighttime routine and stick to it.
Following a routine before bed helps your body prepare for sleep, especially if implemented on a consistent basis. When you follow the same nighttime routine, you are essentially telling your body that it’s time to wind down rather than making an extreme change from being awake to sleeping. Your nighttime routine could include going to bed at the same time each night, meditating to help your body relax or reading to help your mind decompress — as long as it helps you wind down before getting some shut eye.
2. Limit electronic usage before bed.
It’s easy to check one last email, scroll social media or catch up on your favorite show before bed. However, the exposure to blue and white light from a phone or TV screen prevents the brain from releasing melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. For most of us, it’s hard to completely get away from technology, so try to limit your use of technology an hour before your bedtime. You can even try adding this rule to your new bedtime routine.
3. Ditch caffeine in the afternoon.
A freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea is essential for most in the morning. However, the more caffeinated products you consume after noon, the harder it will be to fall asleep later in the evening. Caffeine blocks the body’s natural sleep inducing agent, adenosine, and it stays in your system anywhere between four and seven hours. In some cases, caffeine can even wake you up multiple times during the night. If you do drink caffeinated drinks, try to limit your intake to only the morning hours.
4. Add allergen-barrier bedding.
According to a survey by AllerEase, a brand of allergen barrier bedding, 42 percent of Americans say they’ve woken up with allergy-like symptoms. In Michigan, there’s an abundance of allergens like cottonwood and ragweed that can make their way into the bed. And if you have a four-legged friend in your home, your chances of being exposed to those allergens are even higher. A zippered allergen-barrier mattress protector fully-encases the mattress to block dust mites, pollen, bed bugs, pet dander and other household allergens that can disrupt sleep.
5. Rinse off at night.
If you typically shower in the morning, try adding a quick rinse off shower before bed as part of your new nighttime routine. If you spend time outdoors, you’re bringing in all the day’s allergens into your home, which can become trapped in your bedding and cause poor sleep. Showering before bed can help rid your hair, skin and face of the irritants that inhibit your night’s rest.
6. Invest in an air purifier.
Air purifiers eliminate bothersome airborne pollutants that can contribute to poor sleep hygiene. When you breathe particles such as pollen, mold, dust and dander indoors it can lead to congestion which makes sleeping difficult. Air purifiers also create ambient white noise, a sound a lot of people find soothing when falling asleep.
Stephanie Popso is a health and wellness coach based in Metro Detroit and a spokesperson for AllerEase.