The mid-afternoon yawns at work always hit hard and fast. We’ve all been there. As much as you may want to reach for yet another cup of coffee, the real solution to your midday sleepy blues is practising good sleep hygiene. Yes, that’s a thing!

Sleep hygiene refers to a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to ensuring good nighttime sleep quality, and in turn, full daytime alertness the next morning. Practicing good sleep hygiene is important for both physical and mental health and is something that anyone of any age can benefit from.

Four simple ways to help improve your sleep hygiene:

Avoid stimulants

Eliminating caffeine, nicotine, and excessive alcohol close to bedtime is key to achieving a good night’s rest. While avoiding things like coffee before bedtime may seem obvious, caffeine secretly lives in a variety of foods and drinks, like cola and chocolate. Alcohol can also be the cause of poor sleep. While alcohol is known to help you fall asleep faster, too much of it can disrupt your sleep cycle in the second half of the night, when your body begins to process it.

Limit your naps

We know naps are tempting, and even necessary at times, Limiting your naps to 30-minutes can help improve mood, alertness and performance. If your naps exceed the 30-minute mark, you run the risk of grogginess and crankiness being at the forefront of your feelings.

Light exercise

Keeping it light is key when exercising close to bedtime. Your goal should be to get your body moving and bring your heart rate up slightly – you don’t want to be breaking a sweat doing anything strenuous. Walking or cycling are great easy aerobic exercises you can do before bed to help drastically improve your sleep quality. The effects of an intense pre-bedtime workout differ from person to person, so we aren’t saying that you shouldn’t try out that new high intensity interval training program before bed. Just pay attention to what works for you!

Avoid indigestion causing foods

If you’re going to snack before bedtime, (which we are all guilty of every now and then), it’s best to avoid foods that will upset your digestion or make it work too hard. Avoiding foods that are fried, spicy, fatty, and/or acidic will allow your digestive system to relax a little bit before you rest for the night. When these sorts of foods are consumed before bedtime, the digestive system needs to go into overdrive to process it all, which can lead to heartburn that will ultimately disrupt your sleep.