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Cultivating Sleep Hygiene

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Cultivating Sleep Hygiene

August 23, 2017 Read Time - 3 minutes

It’s 10 PM, and you’ve got to wake up at 6 AM for a full day of work tomorrow.  You know you should hit the sack, but there is an e-mail from your brother with a hilarious YouTube video that you can’t help but watch. Of course, you’ve got to post the video on Facebook, which sends you down the Internet rabbit hole of looking at friends’ photos and clicking on click bait. One thing leads to another, and two hours later, you realize you’ve got less than 6 hours left to sleep

Lack of adequate sleep leads to anxiety and other mood disorders, weight gain, impaired concentration, and fatigue. Over time, it can lead to a variety of chronic health conditions. To combat sleep deprivation, we have compiled a list of ways you can improve your sleep hygiene:

  1. Mood lighting: Although you really should turn off your computer and other devices for at least an hour before getting shuteye, this is easier said than done. If you must browse the Internet before bed, try installing Flux, an app that synchronizes the lighting on your screen with the time of day in your time zone. That way, you can have a brightly lit screen during the day but soft, yellow backlighting for nighttime. This makes the transition to a dark room for sleeping easier and less abrupt. To make waking easier and more natural, try a wake-up alarm—it slowly brightens the light in the room up an hour before the alarm is set, simulating sunlight, no matter how early you have to rise.
  2. Pick up a book: To relax your mind, try some light reading before bed. Avoid books that may provoke anxiety or that you can’t put down, such as thrillers. The best books for lulling you to sleep? Biographies.
  3. White out noise: The sounds of cars outsides, voices of roommates and family members, and the normal creaks in any house can distract you from sleep. Although earplugs can drown out sounds, many find them uncomfortable to sleep in. Try turning on white noise, such as a fan, to block background noise. Also consider an app such as Relax Melodies, in which you can choose a variety of background sounds to help you slumber—such as sounds of the ocean, a vacuum cleaner, and even a lullaby.
  4. Guided meditation: Imagine a gentle, soothing voice coaching you to sleep. This is the idea behind Pzizz, an app that guides you through relaxation exercises to help you catch your Zz’s faster.
  5. Exercise: Sweating it out can help you feel more tired and release endorphins that combat anxiety and insomnia. Timing is crucial: working out less than three hours before bed can actually make you feel more energized and less likely to fall asleep. The best times to exercise are in the morning and early afternoon (think lunchtime cycling class) in order to experience the benefits of exercise on sleep.

**As always, PlushCare doctors are available to talk with you about any questions you have. PlushCare’s top physicians will diagnose, treat, and prescribe you medication all from your phone. For more information or to book an appointment, visit plushcare.com.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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