Lifestyle and sleep

Does your lifestyle affect your sleep patterns and how you fall asleep?

We are all creatures of habit. So let’s make sure that our habits are those that contribute to a good night’s sleep.

Sleep patterns
1

First things first.

One of the best things you can do is go to bed around the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning. While this is not always possible, and it’s very tempting to sleep in a little later on weekends or holidays, keeping regular hours will go a long way towards making you feel refreshed, energetic, and alert. You will be much better prepared for anything that comes your way during the day.

2

Avoid the snooze button.

A few minutes more sleep won’t make you feel any better and in fact could end up making you feel groggier. Once you’re awake, get up and get moving.

3

Write things down.

A personal sleep diary doesn’t need to be a special document. Simply keeping track of how you slept and when you slept may help you organize your sleep habits so that your quality of sleep improves.

4

Don’t bring your worries home.

The pressures and stresses of an average work or school day can be disruptive to your evening and can also affect how you sleep. Sometimes we must consider a problem, resolve a situation, or come up with a new approach to something after working hours.

Get yourself a package of 3" x 5" index cards. Make short notes on each card about the problem or situation you need to address, and then put the cards on your bedside table. You might be surprised at the answers you come up with in the morning. Lying in bed trying to work something out will only cost you much‑needed sleep and leave you even less able to handle those challenges the next day.

5

Let the sunshine in.

Daylight

Daylight helps regulate our sleep patterns. Once you’re up, open your window coverings to let the natural light in. If you don’t get enough natural light or if it’s a dark day, turn on the lights in your bedroom and living space. Exposure to sunlight—and morning sunlight in particular—will help you to fall asleep at night.

6

Keep in shape.

exercise

The benefits of exercise to health cannot be underestimated, and exercising for at least half an hour every day helps relieve stress, improves our mood, and keeps our bodies in better shape. Exercise also helps us sleep, but going to a kick-boxing class a few hours before bedtime will help keep you awake into the night. Try to plan to exercise in the morning, on your lunch hour, or earlier in the evening instead.

7

Make the evening as low-key as possible.

Wind down gradually in the hours before bed. Enjoy your dinner. Read a book, watch a little television, phone a friend, enjoy a hobby. Go for a leisurely walk around the block, and indulge in a warm bath. Once in bed, if sleep still eludes you, try one or more of the following relaxation techniques:

  • Deep breathing…it slows you down
  • Try counting backwards from 100 or 1,000…you pick the number!
  • Meditating
  • Visualizing yourself being relaxed and sleepy

Should you be sleeping alone?

Well, yes, if your partner’s bed habits mean you end up getting a lousy night of sleep. Some of us like to watch TV or read in bed…and fall asleep with the lights on. Some of us snore, some have sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or hot flashes. Often it is hard to agree on room temperature. Any or all of these means no one sleeps well. Kiss each other goodnight… then consider separate beds in the same room or separate bedrooms altogether.

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