While insomnia is often blamed for a lack of sleep, the problem can actually be solved by the establishment of healthy sleep habits. A number of common mistakes are made which ensure the maximum potential for sleep is not realized. It is important to set up a room properly and maintain a steady sleeping pattern. Stimulants like caffeine should not be consumed in the evening with exercise also assisting the sleeping process. Forcing sleep never works, and afternoon naps should also be discarded.
One of the first steps when trying to establish healthy sleep habits is to ensure that the bedroom is set up properly for sleep. Items like radios and televisions must be removed from the bedroom as they are distracting. The bed and pillows must also be comfortable with the sheets changed often. The room should be cool but not too cold, and the light should be switched off.
One of the most common problems when it comes to sleep is the inability to maintain a regular sleeping pattern. A biological clock records this pattern so it is important to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. A regular bedtime routine tells the brain when it is time to sleep and when to awaken.
Caffeine and nicotine should be avoided at all costs in the evening if healthy sleep habits are to be maintained. Caffeine is a major stimulant and will keep the brain awake when it is time to sleep. Nicotine affects the body’s metabolism, thus causing it to remain energetic. Instead of these energy boosters, drink warm milk or hot chocolate.
In general, healthy sleep habits cannot be established without a regular exercise regime. Aim for at least 20 minutes of exercise a day, preferably in the final six hours before bedtime. Heavy exercises should be avoided close to bedtime because they cause the body’s temperature to rise which keeps it energetic and awake.
People who try to force themselves to sleep will likely have no success. One of the cornerstones of healthy sleep habits is the process of allowing sleep to occur naturally. Staying in bed for longer than half an hour when it is clear sleep is not imminent does not help matters. Instead of lying idly on the bed, get up and read or listen to calm music before trying to sleep again.
Afternoon naps seem like a good idea at the time but they actually hinder the sleep process. Getting rest during the day convinces the brain that the body does not need sleep when the usual bedtime comes. An afternoon nap interferes with the biological clock and causes a person to feel energized when he/she should be sleeping.