When most people hear the word “hygiene,” they think of showering, brushing their teeth and deodorant. But did you know that there’s such a thing as sleep hygiene? Our brains become “dirty” throughout the day, and sleep is our body’s mental way of cleaning out all the junk we accumulate throughout the day.
Scientists at the University of Rochester found that our brains need sleep in order to survive. When we sleep, our brain takes that time to clean out the “brain junk” caused by our cells doing their daily jobs. The brain’s garbage men carry waste from our brains on waves of cerebrospinal fluid. The waves take the leftovers that the brain doesn’t need straight to our liver and out of the body. Cool, right?
This isn’t the only study out there confirming that our brain needs rest. The National Sleep Foundation gives tips on how to improve your sleep hygiene. We’ve broken it down into five things you can easily avoid or cut-out to help you slumber a bit more like a babe:
- Abstain from stimulants close to bedtime. Go ahead and have a second cup of coffee; just make sure you drink up before 6:00 p.m.
- Save vigorous exercise for early morning or the afternoon—not close to bed. Even more reason to stop hitting the snooze button and get to the gym first thing in the morning.
- Stay away from heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Soak in enough light during the day to assist your body in maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Go outside!
- Keep your bed a sanctuary for sleep only—avoid watching TV, reading, doing work, or other mentally stimulating activities in it that may disassociate your bed from sleeping in your mind.
You’ll know you need to start incorporating these tips if: it takes you a long time to fall asleep, you’re waking up frequently through the night, or you have excessive day-time sleepiness.
For a little extra help before you hit the hay, check out Modere’s Sleep Health.