Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh? Oh, excuse me. Nodding off there. No, really, I wasn’t. I was looking for a more interesting way to start a column. Hope I succeeded.
Here’s a phrase you might or might not have heard: Sleep hygiene.
From Merriam-Webster — Sleep: “The natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored;” and Hygiene: “The things that you do to keep yourself and your surroundings clean in order to maintain good health.”
So, sleep hygiene includes the things you do to get good sleep so you can improve or maintain good health. How’s your hygiene? Mine was awful, but it’s improving.
In recent months I’ve been building a list of topics about which a health-and-wellness coach would coach. Among the obvious inclusions are diet, exercise, avoiding “bad” things, emotional health, relational health and rest, relaxation and restorative SLEEP.
You know you need sleep. We all need it — and probably more than we Americans typically get.
The first important point to get is that sleep is not a feckless event. It is a virile, vital component of growth, health and restoration. Once I saw sleep as more than just resting — saw it as the powerful process that it is — I began to appreciate why we must prioritize it as much as anything else we do.
So I knew I needed a good seven hours to eight hours a night consistently, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to do it. Then I heard about improving my sleep hygiene, and just like I learned to brush my teeth, wash my hair and do whatever else properly or better, I learned ways to improve my sleep hygiene.
So, from me and the National Sleep Foundation, here you go:
• Have a consistent bed time and wake-up time. Depending on what your life is like, I know this can be tricky. I help midwives, remember? Greeting new babies? It’s true that babies seem to prefer 3 a.m. to all other hours. So I know this can be difficult, but I still have my bed time and my wake-up alarm set for the same times every day. If they must shift, they must, but I do my best to stay or get back on track. Be as consistent as you possibly can.