• Marie Belzile-Davidson, MS, Dietetic Intern

Tips for Improving Your Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is just a fancy way of describing sleeping habits. You may have heard of countless ways to get better sleep, but here are a few simple suggestions that you can start to easily integrate improved sleep habits into your life!


Sleep and nutrition go hand-in-hand


Hold on, why am I talking about sleep when our specialty here at The Functional Kitchen is nutrition? Well, nutrition and sleep go hand-in-hand! Sleep has both mental and physical health benefits - I am sure you have experienced that your mental and physical state of wellbeing has an impact on the nutrition choices you make! I know I have...


Inadequate sleep can lead to heightened emotional reactivity and can negatively impact our memory and executive decision-making. That means our ability to make healthy, meaningful choices when it comes to nutrition can be directly impacted by the amount of sleep we are getting! Inadequate sleep (less than seven hours a night for the average adult), can also impair our tolerance to glucose, can alter hormone levels, is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart attacks, to name a few. Yikes!


Build consistency in your sleep and wake times


Good sleep hygiene involves having a similar bedtime and wake time every day of the week. Yes, that includes weekends as well. While it may be tempting, try to limit staying up later or sleeping in longer on your days off. Your body will thank you for maintaining a consistent sleep schedule throughout the entire week.


Make time for enough sleep


While none of us have enough time to get everything done, we need to make time for what is most important to us, like getting enough rest! Just as you would not skip brushing your teeth, consider taking care of your sleep hygiene with the same level of importance. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you are having trouble getting an adequate amount of shut-eye, check and see if you have some afternoon caffeine that you could work on cutting out. Sleep is certainly something you want to make time for since it impacts nearly every part of our health!


Set your bedroom up for sleep success


Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet; any light (including from electronics) can disrupt your sleep. Your bedroom should also be a relaxing environment - after all, how well do you sleep when you are feeling stressed and anxious? Also, only use your bed for sleep-related activities—prime your body to know that when you get into bed, you intend to sleep (not answer late-night emails or check for the latest online sale).


Power down the electronics at least 30 minutes before hitting the hay


The blue light that is emitted by electronic devices can hinder the production of melatonin, which is essential for a good night's sleep. Ok, but what if you use the night shift setting on your devices? This may help reduce blue light exposure but ultimately, electronic devices are stimulating! To help yourself unwind, try putting down all electronics—not just screens— before you plan to hit the hay. If it sounds daunting, make it work for you! Maybe you work well with hard cutoffs, or maybe you would benefit by starting slow - say, avoiding electronics 5 minutes before bed and eventually working up to 30+ minutes.



References:


1. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Sleep Education. https://sleepeducation.org. Accessed 03/13, 2022.


2. CDC. Tips for Better Sleep. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html. Accessed 03/13, 2022.


3. Golem DL, Martin-Biggers JT, Koenings MM, Davis KF, Byrd-Bredbenner C. An integrative review of sleep for nutrition professionals. Adv Nutr. 2014;5(6):742-759. Published 2014 Nov 14. doi:10.3945/an.114.006809

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