Our behaviour throughout the day — especially before we go to bed at night — can have a major impact on the quality of our sleep. In fact, what we do before bedtime often decides if we have a good, sound sleep or a restless night and in turn, an alert day. Poor sleep can result in us feeling tired during the day, impacting our ability to concentrate on work and tasks at hand.

Many people with chronic pain often have trouble falling asleep and struggle with getting a good night's rest. When sleep is poor, pain can feel worse.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene refers to a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have a good night's sleep and full daytime alertness.  But what are some behaviours that are considered "good sleep hygiene"?

11 Healthy Sleep Habits

Follow these tips for a great night's sleep:

1. Go to Bed and Get Up at the Same Time Every Day

Try not to let these times differ too much. Your body gets used to falling asleep and waking up at a fixed time every day — even on weekends or holidays.

2. Avoid Taking Naps During the Day

If you must take a nap, keep it within 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Try not to nap in the evening.

3. Watch What You Eat

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, heavy, spicy or sugary foods four to six hours before bedtime. Drinking alcohol too close to your bedtime may disrupt your sleep. In fact, while alcohol may make you fall asleep more quickly, studies have found that it also causes people to wake up in the middle of the night as our body starts processing the alcohol.  Likewise, caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolate, as well as spice and sugar, also stimulates the system and makes sleeping difficult.

4. Regular Exercise

Especially if taken earlier in the day, exercise can help you sleep more easily and soundly. However, heavy exercise in the late afternoons and evenings should be avoided as it can make falling asleep at night more difficult.

5. Keep Your Room Quiet, Dark, Well-ventilated and at a Comfortable Temperature

Block out all distracting noise and light. A room that is too hot or too cold can keep you awake. A cool environment is often the most conducive environment for sleeping.

6. Your Bed Should be for Sleep and Intimacy, Only

Don't use your bed as an office table or a games room as your mind may start associating your bedroom with activity rather than sleep.

7. Establish a Pre-sleep Habit

This includes activities such as a warm bath, meditation or a few minutes of reading before going to sleep. These habits will get your body ready for rest/sleep.

8. Do Not Go to Bed Unless You Are Sleepy

If you are not sleepy at bedtime, try reading a book, listening to soft music or finding something relaxing to take your mind off worries about sleep.

9. Practice Relaxation Techniques Before Bed

Deep breathing, muscle relaxation and yoga  can help to relax both your mind and your body, helping to reduce anxiety or muscle tension that may keep you awake at night.

10. If You Are Not Asleep After 20 Minutes, Get Out of Bed

Try sitting in a chair in the dark. Avoid doing office work or housework, and don't watch television or surf the internet as these activities will just stimulate your mind. Listening to relaxing music  has been found to help some people fall asleep more easily.

11. Don't Clock-watch

If you cannot sleep, do not keep checking the time on your clock or watch. This may make you more anxious and may make it harder to fall asleep.

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