What Is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene put quite simply, is healthy sleep. It’s that simple! Forming healthy sleep habits are what will get you on the path to good sleep hygiene. This includes more than just sleep-related things, though, like having the right mattress or setting the tone in your bedroom at bedtime. Sleep hygiene extends to what you do throughout your entire day that leads up to bedtime.
Good Sleep Hygiene vs. Poor Sleep Hygiene
Who doesn’t love a good night of sleep? You feel refreshed and ready to go when you’ve gotten a full night of rest, and you know how terrible you can feel when you haven’t slept. Poor sleep hygiene can lead to brain fog, which means slower reaction time, poor decision making, less memory retention, and more. Consistently not getting enough sleep can also lead to real health problems, as well, which is why it’s crucial to clean up your sleep hygiene!
Good sleep hygiene, on the other hand, has many benefits for you, starting with simply making you feel more refreshed and ready to take on your day. When you consistently get quality sleep, you’re at lower risk of health problems like heart disease, strokes, and cancer. Good sleep hygiene can also be an incredible stress reliever and help you feel more relaxed. Sleeping is your body’s time to recharge and it needs good sleep hygiene to be able to do that properly.
Sleep Hygiene Tips For Better Quality Rest
There are a few actions you can take through the day to establish better sleep habits. Try doing the following for more quality rest.
Set A Bedtime And Stick To It
Remember when your parents insisted you went to bed by 9 p.m. on school nights? They were onto something and you should keep doing that. It doesn’t have to be 9 p.m. but it should be consistent and go to bed at the same time each night to set up a routine. Adults need around seven to nine hours of sleep per night, so start there when planning bedtime.
Practice Relaxing Activities Before Bed
Sometimes it’s hard to wind down before bed, and if you’re someone who struggles with that, build a time to relax into your schedule. Spend a little bit of time before bed doing relaxing activities, like listening to calming music, meditating, or reading. A 2009 study actually showed that reading for just six minutes before bedtime can reduce stress up to 68%.
Avoid Electronics Before Bed
Though tempting, you should avoid watching TV or scrolling through social media on your phone before bed. Not only are those screens rough on your eyes, but the blue light they emit can disrupt your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to sleep soundly. If you feel comfortable with it, you should also put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode or at least on vibrate so the notifications don’t wake you up.
Caffeine And Alcohol, Too
It goes without saying that caffeine too late in the day won’t make sleeping any easier. And though you might feel like alcohol helps you sleep, it won’t provide quality sleep. Instead, try drinking an herbal tea before bed. Not only are these free of caffeine, but there are even teas designed to induce sleepiness.
Create A Sleep Haven
Your bedroom should be only for bed-related things. Set your bedroom up so it’s a comforting hideaway designed for just sleep and sex. If you create a space in your home that’s just for one purpose, it’ll also trick your brain into doing only that activity there. In the case of a bedroom, if you set up a haven for sleep and only use it only for that purpose, your brain will learn that this is the location for sleeping.
If You Can’t Sleep, Return To Relaxing Activities
Follow the 20-minute rule if you’re struggling to fall asleep at night. If you don’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, get back out of bed and do a relaxing activity for a little bit before trying to sleep again. This will help reset your body and tell your mind that it’s time for bed. Once you’ve relaxed a little bit, go back to bed and try again.
Start A Journal
Another sleep hygiene technique is to start a journal. This journal can be for a variety of things, but consider using it to write down your thoughts from the day so you can let them go. You can also make a to-do list for the next day so you’re not worrying about it while falling asleep. Journaling is a great way to alleviate stress, especially if you’re someone who has trouble shutting off their mind before bed.
Exercise During The Day, Not Night
Exercise helps expend energy during the day so that you’ll be more tired at night, just be careful how close to bedtime you’re exercising. Morning workouts are actually your best bet because it’ll wake you up for the day and burn off enough energy that you’ll be tired when bedtime comes. Exercise, of course, raises your heart rate, so if you do it too close to bedtime, your body will have a hard time coming back down to relax.
Improving your sleep hygiene is so much more than going to bed early in your comfortable bed and getting a full night of sleep. That’s not easy for some people, which means finding sleep hygiene techniques to train your body to have healthier habits that span the whole day. Relaxing before bed, putting your phone away, and starting a journal are just a few of the ways to have good sleep hygiene.