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Sleep Hygiene Tips

I'm on a Facebook group for local men (my wife is part of many local Facebook "mom's groups" that trade advice and support - I found something similar). A recovering alcoholic was struggling with insomnia and wanted advice. There was very little good advice and the bulk of comments suggested using cannabis products like edibles - which basically trades one form of self-medication using drugs for another. I'm always shocked this isn't widely known, but here are the basics to getting a good night's sleep.

    1. Regular bed time

    The human body knows how to sleep, but helping 'train' it is a good idea. Try to keep a regular bed time daily to help set your body's rhythms up to know when to wind down. This part is scientifically proven.

    2. "The Hours Before Midnight Count For Double"

    This was my father's advice, and I haven't seen in proven in any scientific journal, but if you compare it to some of the other advice here it might start to make sense.

    Basically, sleeping 8 hours from 10 PM to 6 AM is worth more sleep than sleeping Midnight till 8 AM.

    3. Exercise

    It may be obvious to try and wear out your body before going to sleep, but ideally, you'd be getting that exercise before 3 PM, and certainly not immediately before trying to relax by the end of the day.

    4. Get Sunlight

    Getting sunlight on your face helps cue the body to tell the difference between day and night, the natural phases of work and sleep respectively. There's a growing movement to get sunlight on faces first thing in the morning. Vitamin D supplements can help too.

    5. Darken Your Bedroom

    Again you're cueing your body to understand that it's nighttime. If you can manage to install black-out blinds, this is the ultimate, but try to limit the amount of light that comes in through windows and doors.

    6. Screens Part 1

    The blue light in screens will keep you awake by not letting your brain shut down properly. There are glasses you can buy and built-in features on the latest phones to eliminate the blue light, but it's better to simply avoid the screen for an hour or so before bed.

    7. Screens Part 2

    If you simply must have some kind of electronic entertainment, I personally rank them as follows from 'worst' to 'least harmful' based on proximity to the screen and intensity of the experience:

    1) Video Games

    2) Doomscrolling your smartphone

    3) TV

    No TV in the bedroom though.

    8. Journal

    Whether it's getting your to-do list down on paper so you don't ruminate over it while you should be trying to sleep, or writing what you are grateful for to put you in a positive mindset, a written, analog journal can be a useful tool for better sleep.

    9. Reading

    Reading a book can help take your mind off things and is an easy thing to do in bed - when it gets tiring and the words start to blend together, put the book down, turn off the light and off to sleep you will go.

    10. Temperature

    A hot bath can feel relaxing on your muscles, but the literature suggests that it actually puts your physiology in a state of arousal. It's better to be cool going into bed and use the covers to keep yourself warm.

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