And let’s not forget what alcohol does for our sleep; drinking even one alcoholic beverage in the evening can give us broken sleep, reduce the number of REM cycles we get each night, start messing with our circadian rhythm, and cause or worsen insomnia. Even if it seems like alcohol makes it easier to sleep, because its sedative effect knocks you out, it’s wrecking the rest of your night and leaving you exhausted the next day.
When we know that alcohol harms our sleep, and that getting good sleep regularly has a whole host of health benefits, we begin building better sleep habits and prioritizing a good night’s rest. “Sleep hygiene” refers to these helpful sleep habits and environments, like a dark, quiet, room, going to bed at the same time every night, and reducing our back-lit screen time in the evenings. We introduced this concept when we first discussed alcohol’s impact on sleep, but now that we’re digging into building more of these positive pieces into our lives, let’s review some ideas for getting good sleep and add a few more into our routine:
Reduce or eliminate screen time 2 hours before bed.
Wear blue-light blocking glasses if you do use screens in the evening.
Use a white noise machine at bedtime.
Try guided meditation or yoga nidra prior to bed.
Develop an evening routine that signals to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep, like a detailed skincare routine or preparing clothes and supplies for the next day.
Go to bed + rise at the same time every day.
Use familiar and relaxing scents at bedtime, like lavender essential oil.
Exercise in the morning or afternoon. (Evening workouts may disrupt sleep).
Limit caffeine intake during the day, especially in the afternoon and evening.
Take a warm bath before bedtime to unwind and relax your nervous system.
Create a relaxing and inviting environment in your bedroom, limiting light. Invest in nice sheets or pajamas, create a little sacred space on your bedside table.
Breus, M. (2018, January). Alcohol and Sleep: What You Need to Know. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201801/alcohol-and-sleep-what-you-need-know
Macmillan, A. (2017, October). Why Dreaming May Be Important for Your Health. TIME. https://time.com/4970767/rem-sleep-dreams-health/
MyHealthfinder. (2020, October.) Get Enough Sleep. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep
Sleep Foundation. (2020, September). Alcohol and Sleep. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/alcohol-and-sleep
Whitaker, H. (2019). Quit Like a Woman: The radical choice to not drink in a culture obsessed with alcohol. The Dial Press.