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Sleep is one of the most important parts of our life, yet so often we neglect to keep up with it. Not only does this make us sluggish throughout the day, but it’s also bad for our mental and physical health.
But what is sleep hygiene, and how do you put it into practice? Great question, and it’s one we have the answers to. In this blog, we’ll explain the meaning of sleep hygiene and how you can apply it in your life, and we’ll also give you 10 tips that will improve your sleep and your sleep hygiene habits.
Sleep hygiene includes any habits and routines that involve sleep. When you have good sleep hygiene, you can sleep more deeply, fall asleep faster, and generally improve your quality of life.
A misconception about sleep hygiene is that you just need to change your habits and behavior near bedtime. The fact is, if you want to have great sleep hygiene, there are things you need to be doing throughout the day to help you get a better night’s sleep. This involves diet, activities, and other factors.
Once you have your sleep hygiene dialed in, you’ll be able to keep a more consistent sleep schedule and regularly sleep through the night. It all starts with forming positive, healthy habits. But before we get to those, let’s talk about why sleep is so crucial to your health.
Quality rest is one of the most essential keys to good health. Sleep affects both your mental and physical health. When you have good sleep, you’re more focused and alert, and your mood is better. When you’re missing out on sleep, you can be irritable and tired and have a short attention span and difficulty focusing.
When you’re missing out on quality rest on a regular basis, there can be long-term consequences. Good sleep habits have been shown to decrease your risk for heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other ailments. People who get good sleep tend to have better cognitive function and memory. Good sleep can benefit everyone, and the sooner you can start establishing good habits, the better.
The key is to form habits that are actually sustainable so that you’re able to stick with them throughout your life. Unfortunately, bad habits can be easy to form, so you want to do everything you can to keep from going down that path.
Fortunately, when you have the right guidance, it can be simple to get into habits that lead to improved sleep and a better quality of life. Now, let’s explore those tips to help you start sleeping better tonight.
Getting into a good sleep routine might take a little bit of time, but it will be well worth the effort. It’s a good idea to start with a few manageable changes to see if you can stick with them. As you begin to develop your habits, you can start adding new changes to your routine to help build even better sleep hygiene.
Let’s dive into 10 ways you can start improving your sleep habits.
First, it’s good to teach your body to stick to a regular sleep schedule. This means going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day. This will help set your circadian rhythm, and your body will learn when it should be getting tired and when it’s time to wake. (And yes, this means you’ll have to avoid sleeping in on the weekends. Sorry!)
When you’re setting your sleep schedule, it’s best to make sure that your schedule allows for around eight hours of sleep, so you can get a full night’s rest.
Exercise daily or have a set exercise schedule if possible. Exercise is a powerful way to improve sleep quality and make your body crave rest. You can start with 30 minutes of exercise per day or whatever you can manage. Feel free to adjust that according to your health needs. Even if it’s a 30-minute walk outside, that’s better for your sleep than being sedentary.
Do your best to make time for exercise either earlier in the day or in the early evening. Exercise too close to bedtime can put your body in a more wakeful state, thus boosting your energy levels and making it harder for you to fall asleep.
Everyone has had the experience of tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling, thinking about their stresses and worries for the next day. Managing this stress can make a big difference in your sleep.
Here are a few things you can do to put that stress out of your mind so you can get some rest instead:
Everyone handles stress differently. We suggest speaking with your doctor about possible treatments for stress and anxiety disorders. If you have a stress disorder, anxiety medication or behavioral therapy may be useful resources to help you sleep better at night.
People talk about this one all the time, but it’s the truth. Your phone and computer screen can make it more difficult for you to sleep at night. Your electronic devices emit blue light, which will cause you to have lower levels of the hormone melatonin.
Melatonin is important to your sleep hygiene. It helps to regulate your sleep cycle, so you want to make sure you’re not decreasing your levels too much. The fact is that 70% of adults admit to using Facebook every day, and 60% report they use Instagram. We’re pretty glued to our screens.
The most important thing you can do is reduce screen time as much as possible. Aim to reduce screen time before bed if possible. If you decide to use your phone, be sure to keep the light dim and avoid any content that induces stress or anxiety. There are even apps to lock you out of other apps for a period of time, which might help you keep off the endless scroll timelines. Also, if your phone or computer has a night mode, it helps to activate that.
Finally, try to keep your electronic device on silent throughout the night so notifications and messages don’t interrupt your sleep. Switching to an old-fashioned alarm clock can help you avoid needing to have your phone near you.
Coffee hounds love their morning brew, but especially avid drinkers may enjoy a cup later in the day. What you might not know is that caffeine’s effects can linger for up to seven hours in your system. If you’re having a late afternoon or evening cup, you might be cutting into your sleep and affecting your ability to slip into your rest cycle.
Everyone will have a different tolerance level. If you find that you’re able to fall asleep easily and restfully when you’re supposed to, even with a late-afternoon cup, you may not have to regulate your consumption as strictly as someone who gets wired from a few sips.
A good way to get yourself in the habit of sticking to a sleep schedule is by having an enjoyable and relaxing bedtime routine that you look forward to. When you’re excited about your relaxing routine, it will make it much easier to stick to your habits. If you’re trying to time your bedtime routine, it’s a good idea to give yourself a solid 45 minutes to an hour so you don’t feel rushed and you are actually able to wind down.
Here are some ways you can relax at the end of the night:
Naps can give you a burst of energy, but excessive napping can make it harder for you to sleep. If you decide to take a nap during the day, try to make sure you’re not napping for more than 30 minutes. Try to finish any naps by around 3 p.m. The later you nap in the day, the more difficult it will be for you to fall asleep and stay asleep at your bedtime.
Try to avoid eating late at night, especially if you’re enjoying a larger meal. Your body has to work hard to digest your food, so eating right before bed can make your body too active to sleep restfully.
If you’re a late-night snacker, you’re not alone. Over 60% of American adults have reported eating snacks at night. In the study, sleep researchers from the University of Arizona Health Sciences found that this type of snacking was linked to worsened sleep and weight gain. Another study linked nighttime snacks with more sleep disruptions too. The correlation between worse sleep and high-fat foods was especially prominent for women.
Nicotine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate. Smoking, especially when it’s close to bedtime, can lead to worse and lower quality sleep.
Aim to stop drinking alcohol at least four hours before bed. Though it can be easier sometimes to fall asleep when under the influence, your sleep will be disrupted when the effects wear off, which can interfere with your sleep cycle.
Finally, good sleep hygiene is much easier when you have a comfortable sleep environment. You should ensure your bedroom is dark and quiet. Also, it’s best if you keep the room temperature cooler at night, ideally between 60°F and 67°F. This helps lower your body temperature, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
It’s a good idea to invest in comfortable bedding and a comfortable mattress, too. The more comfortable your bedding is, the more enjoyable your sleep will be.
Remember, you’re going to have to form sleep-promoting habits if you want to have good sleep. It takes practice, but the effort is always worthwhile. Good sleep can dramatically change your life for the better. Build your habits over time and watch as your quality of life improves.
If you want to get better sleep, Sleep Reset is here to help! Sleep Reset is the only science-backed program that combines the most effective methods from top-tier sleep clinics with dedicated sleep coaching – now convenient, affordable, and customized to your sleep needs and lifestyle. You’ll get a personalized plan designed for your specific sleep patterns and lifestyle, a dedicated sleep coach, and much more.
To get started, take our expert-designed assessment to identify the root causes of your sleep issues and learn more about your sleep patterns.