What is sleep hygiene and how to improve it?
Did you know that common sleeping troubles (such as insomnia) are often caused by bad sleep hygiene habits picked up over the years? In this article, we’ll explore some simple bedtime habits that you can implement to help you get the sleep you deserve.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is a combination of healthy practices and habits that help you prepare for a quality night’s sleep, to enjoy a full following day’s productivity. Is also aids in improving your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
The word ‘hygiene’ refers to the behavioural interventions that you should put in place to optimise the quality of your sleep, creating a ‘clean slate’ to allow your body to prepare for slumber. When you regularly practice good sleep hygiene habits, you’ll start to see how training your body to prepare for sleep can help you maintain a healthy sleep routine, and in turn, have a healthy effect on your overall wellbeing.
How to improve your sleep hygiene
An important first step in improving your sleep hygiene habits is to pay attention to the appropriate amount of sleep ‘time’ you get. As sleeping time varies across ages and is especially impacted by lifestyle and health, an optimal 7-9 hours is the recommended dose.
Including a few of the below changes into your bedtime routine, can make a huge difference to your sleeping health:
Evening sleep hygiene
Avoid stimulants, caffeine, high-sugar content foods and excessive alcohol. Although caffeine and stimulants affect each person differently, it’s encouraged to leave enough time between your bed-time and your last intake of caffeine to ensure that it does not interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Alcohol, though deemed a sedative, can harm the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Eat earlier and lighter. Avoid eating huge meals at night, and ensure your last meal of the day is well before your sleep. As your body needs the energy to digest your food, you may see this keeping you awake, as well as the discomfort of a full stomach causing restless sleep.
Bedtime sleep hygiene
Create a bedroom environment that welcomes sleep. Cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable sleep environments assist in letting your body know when it’s time for bed. Heat, light and noise can increase the chance of a restless night so make sure your mattress, pillows and linen are comfortable and supportive, and that your room feels cool. Invest in black-out curtains or use an eye mask to filter out any light to create a more relaxing environment.
Have a “no-phone zone” and hide your clock. The use of mobile phones before bedtime should be limited as the light from the screen as well as the information your brain is processing can stimulate your mind.
Keep a consistent bedtime. Set out a regular bedtime ‘lights off’ that allows at least 7 hours of sleep. By keeping a consistent time for sleep allows your body to recognise when it’s time to relax and prepare for rest.
These are just a few of many changes you can make to improve your quality of sleep and bedtime habits.
Adjusting your sleep routine
As your behaviours throughout the day, and particularly before bedtime, can have a major influence on your sleep, sleep hygiene habits are designed to promote healthy sleep and help combat issues of sleeplessness.
It’s important to notice that your lifestyle habits – what you eat and drink, the medications you take, how you schedule your days and how you choose to spend your evenings – can significantly impact your quality of sleep. By slightly adjusting your daily routine, understanding the stages of sleep better and investing in your sleep sanctuary, you are making positive changes to a restful night’s sleep, every night.