Your behaviors during the day and especially before bedtime can have a major impact on your sleep. They can promote healthy sleep or contribute to sleeplessness.
Sleep hygiene refers to a set of recommended practices and habits which help to promote good sleep. These recommendations can help people maximize the hours they spend sleeping.
Having good quality sleep is essential for maintaining both physical and mental health and can improve performance at work or school, as well as the overall quality of life.
People of any age can benefit from healthy sleeping habits and quality sleep.
Why practice good sleep hygiene?
Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It also improves productivity and overall quality of life.
While we do have coffee, tea, and other stimulants to jump start our days, a full night of rest is the best medicine for optimal physical and mental health.
Getting too much or disrupted sleep leads to medical issues like fatigue, high blood pressure and increased stress.
The good news is that boosting your current habits will significantly decrease your risk of these symptoms. Everyone from children to older adults can benefit from practicing good sleep habits.
Signs of poor sleep hygiene
The most obvious signs that someone has poor sleep hygiene are frequently disrupted sleep and drowsiness or lack of alertness throughout the day.
People may also take a long time to fall asleep.
Tips for sleep hygiene
Just following a few simple rules can make the difference between a restless and restful sleep. People who find they are tossing and turning a lot at night while they try to sleep may benefit from following the tips below.
1. Check your diet
Heavy meals or those with high acidity, sugar, or spice can cause fitful rest. Try and eat lighter healthier dinners with lean meat or fish to help curb late night snacking.
If you do want a snack before bed, consider a high-carbohydrate snack like toast or crackers. These foods help trigger the release of serotonin. So, sleep won’t be far behind.
Foods rich in fat or spices can trigger indigestion in some people. This can lead to heartburn while they are trying to sleep. This also applies to citrus fruits and carbonated drinks.
2. Limit physical activities before bedtime
Keeping your workouts on an optimal schedule is great for your sleep. Any physical activity should take place no later than three hours before bedtime.
Evening workouts cause us to be overstimulated when it’s time to rest. Go for morning workouts instead. You’ll feel more energized all day and your body will be ready to relax come evening.
Physical activities just before bed reduce the effectiveness of melatonin; the hormone responsible for initiating sleeps.
3. Avoid Lying Awake
If you find yourself lying in bed unable to drift off after 10 minutes, it’s recommended that you get up and try to relax somewhere else.
You can try and find relaxation through gentle breathing, meditation, or splashing warm water on your face. Steer clear of electronics or reading as these will only keep your brain active.
4. Think Dark or Dim
Once you’re finished with dinner, it’s a good idea to start dimming the lights in your home. This tells your brain that sleep is on the horizon and you’ll naturally start powering down.
Once you get into bed, make sure your room is as dark as possible. Cover windows and shut doors as necessary, and put the electronic devices away.
5. Practice consistency
Going to bed at the same time every night is a great place to start in improving your sleep habits. Try and stay within 20 minutes of your usual bedtime every night even on the weekends.
This will also help you keep a fixed wake-time each morning. This has the ultimate effect of making you rise feeling rested and bright-eyed.
6. No stimulants
A more challenging habit to curb is your caffeine consumption. Many of us love the afternoon pick-me-up of coffee or tea. Anything consumed after 2 PM is considered bad sleep hygiene.
Similarly, smoking and drinking alcohol before bed will give you fitful sleep and a groggy morning. Steer clear of any alcoholic beverages or cigarettes at least three hours before bed.
7. No Tech devices
TVs, smartphones, tablets, and computer monitors all emit blue light. Blue light reduces serotonin production in the brain and makes you feel more alert.
Powering down devices or adding a blue light filter in the evening allows your body to start producing melatonin at the appropriate time. This makes sleep overcome you like it’s supposed to.
Ensure the bedroom is quiet and comfortable. The bedroom should be at a comfortable temperature; TV, mobile phones and bright lamps should be off.
8. Correct conditions
Given that your bedroom is the ultimate place for sleep, you got to make sure it has the right temperatures. Anything between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for catching some sleep.
Pets that wake you up should be kept out of the bedroom. Also, ensure to maintain darkness in the room.
It may be helpful to use blackout curtains, earplugs and eyeshades as well.
9. Ensure adequate exposure to daylight
Exposure to sunlight during daytime and a dark environment at night helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
This is especially important for people who spend most of their time indoors and do not go out regularly.
Frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In addition, if you’re taking too long to fall asleep, you should consider evaluating your sleep routine and revising your bedtime habits.
Just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a night spent tossing and turning.
Maintaining excellent sleep hygiene is a key part of cultivating great overall health and wellness. Happy sleeping!