Productivity is directly related to quality of sleep. If you aren’t well rested, you feel lethargic and can’t concentrate on work. But when you’re well rested, you can focus and produce at the pinnacle of your expertise.
A productive life is the key to happiness.
Since all of it starts with sleep, it is important to create good sleep hygiene, which requires an ideal sleep environment and an optimal pre-bed routine.
Importance of Sleep Hygiene
It isn’t as much about sleep as about discipline and good habits.
It takes a very short time to build bad sleep habits. You can quickly get addicted to smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. And breaking these habits can be extremely challenging.
But building good habits isn’t as easy. You don’t just get addicted to exercise nor to reading.
So what’s the difference?
Activities like smoking and drinking release dopamine in the brain, and dopamine makes us feel good. So these habits build quickly but are very difficult to beat.
On the other hand, exercise, meditation, or journaling doesn’t release dopamine in the brain, so these habits take a lot of time to form.
But the good thing is that you can form good habits. It’ll take some time, but if you stick to the routine, the habit will become hardwired, and your subconscious mind will take over.
Benefits of Good Sleep
Sleeping for 7-9 hours per day has the following health benefits:
- Better weight regulation
- Improved concentration and productivity
- Maximizes athletic performance
- Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduces the risk of depression
Apart from this, poor sleep causes irritability and anxiety. Because of heightened emotions, we often become more prone to anger outburst, which can ruin our relationships.
How to practice good sleep hygiene?
It’s simple - create a routine and an ideal environment for sleep.
Good sleep hygiene = pre-bedtime routine + ideal sleep environment
Let’s look at these aspects in more detail.
Ideal sleep environment
Once you’ve optimized your bedroom, falling asleep becomes a tireless effort. However, sleeping in a less than ideal environment can be counterintuitive and lead to interrupted sleep, which leaves you drowsy in the morning.
Here are a few tips that you can employ to create the ideal sleep environment:
- Choose the right pillow: Get a pillow that provides good support to the cervical spine and maintains good alignment of neck with the rest of the spine.
- Get a comfortable mattress: go for a mattress that provides ideal support without being too rigid.
- Optimize bedroom temperature: when it comes to temperature, the cooler the better.
- Lights out: it’s better to sleep in the dark. If you can’t get rid of the light, then invest in a good eye mask.
- Get rid of the noise: you can use earplugs and earphones to drown out the noise or rely on white noise machines to cancel out the noise.
- Use scents: essential oils and scented candles can be used to induce a calmer state of mind.
It’s better to remember that your bedroom will get cluttered overtime. So it’s better to allot a specific day each week on which you’ll clean out your bedroom.
Follow a night routine
When you do a set of activities right before heading to bed, your brain recognizes that it’s time to sleep and releases melatonin accordingly.
So a night routine not only makes you more productive but also induces sleep.
Here are a few things that I do before drifting off to sleep:
- Put away your devices: electronic devices emit blue light which hinders the release of melatonin in the brain.
- Create a to-do list: by creating a to-do list for the next day, you can be prepared to face the challenges and feel motivated when you wake up.
- Journal: after a long day, there are many anxiety provoking thoughts that keep impinging upon the mind. To settle these thoughts, you can journal about them.
- Read a book: I usually read a book before bed, but you can listen to podcasts or audiobooks.
- Try relaxation techniques: relaxation techniques such as grounding, 4-7-8 breathing method, and sleep hypnosis decrease anxiety and induce sleep.
Create a sleep schedule
After creating the ideal environment and the optimal pre-bed routine, you need to decide the time at which you need to sleep.
One way to figure this out is to pick the time at which you want to wake up. Then wind the clock back at least 6 hours, and you’ll know the time at which you need to sleep.
It isn’t important to wake up early. Some of us are night owls who’re more productive at night while others are early birds who love the morning breeze.
Healthy habits to optimize sleep
If you lie dormant without getting a decent amount of workout, then it’ll be difficult to drift off to sleep.
So here are a few good habits that’ll help you sleep well at night:
- Exercise regularly: physical activity tires out the body and provides a host of health benefits.
- Exposure to sunlight: sunlight drives our circadian rhythm, which keeps track of the sleep-wake cycle.
- Avoid smoking: smoking is injurious to health and may lead to poor sleep quality.
- Cut down caffeine intake: caffeine has a half life of 6 hours, so it stays in your body for a very long time, making it difficult to fall asleep.
- Consume a balanced diet: optimal hormonal function in your body requires both macro and micro nutrients.
Sleep hygiene for teens
Teenagers should aim for a sleep of at least 7-8 hours. As a result of hormonal changes and a lot of physical activity, adolescents generally require a lot more sleep than adults.
More than sleep hygiene, it’s about self-discipline. If you want to stick to a routine until it becomes hardwired, you’ll have to struggle against yourself. And it’ll be easy to do so if you remember the health benefits and increased productivity that you’ll get by following good sleep hygiene.