What Is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep Hygiene is a phrase originally coined in the Late 1970's. It was a practice researched and designed to help people suffering from insomnia. In recent years it has become more mainstream as people realized how important a good night's sleep was for their everyday life. Nowadays, sleep hygiene refers to one's ability to employ healthy habits, behaviors, and an ideal environment to help you get the best sleep possible.
Why Is Sleep Hygiene So Important?
Lack of sleep can have an enormous toll on physical and emotional health. By developing good sleep hygiene a person can reduce the likelihood of these negative effects. Having a good routine and habits can greatly enhance your sleep hygiene and aid in obtaining quality, uninterrupted sleep.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
An enormous amount of research has gone into developing a set of practices, routines and tips designed to enhance the quality of one's sleep hygiene. Below are some of the most common ways to enhance your sleep hygiene.
1. Regular Schedule- One of the first steps is to normalize your schedule as best as possible. Try to go to bed and wake up at a similar time everyday. Yes, this includes weekends! Maintaining a normal schedule can assist in improving sleep as well as improving your circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are essential for many bodily functions.
2. Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine- It is recommended to avoid caffeine and nicotine at least 5-7 hours before bed. These stimulants can drastically affect your bodies ability to fall asleep. It is recommended to also try lowering the total amount of caffeine you consume throughout the day as well if you're having trouble falling or staying asleep. This can be as simple as reducing the size of your coffee from a large to a medium. Many people report that lowering caffeine throughout the day can not only help you fall asleep, but improve overall quality of sleep as well.
3. Use Bed Only For Sleeping- It can be helpful to limit the use of your bed solely for sleeping. If your body only associates your bed with sleeping then it may be easier to fall asleep. When the bed is used for other things such as reading, watching tv, and scrolling on the phone it makes it much harder for your body to make the connection. Many people have seen improvements from abstaining from using their phone or laptop when entering bed and using the bed only for sleep.
4. Develop Sleep Rituals- Another tactic that many people have found helpful in improving their sleep is to develop sleep rituals. These rituals can be a variety of things and can be individualized, but the main point is to do a ritual that reminds your body that it's time to sleep. Some examples would be meditating for 10 minutes, doing some relaxing yoga poses, or taking a hot bath or shower an hour or two before bed. Research suggests that the body will begin to feel sleepy following a drop in body temperature. The hot bath or shower will raise your body temperature temporarily and as it begins to decrease you will become sleepier.
5. Exercise- As with many things in life, exercise can be a positive factor when it comes to improving your sleep. Things as simple as a short morning and/ or evening walk can have a useful impact on the quality of your sleep. Research has shown that even 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity can help you sleep better that same day. This is not something that will take weeks or months to see the benefits from. Exercise helps release endorphins that have beneficial impacts on mood, stress, and pain. It also increases your energy levels which may assist people feeing better during the day and taking less naps. Taking naps, especially longer ones, can have a negative impact on your overall sleep health. It is important not to do any strenuous activity within 1-2 hours before sleep. This will give time for the endorphins to wear off and your brain time to calm down.
6. Good Environment- One of the most important factors in improving your sleep hygiene is to make sure your bedroom is a comfortable and quiet place which enables you to get the best sleep possible. Having the correct room temperature, levels of light, and levels of sounds are crucial. If you have trouble with the noise levels you could try wearing earplugs and if you have trouble with too much light in the mornings you could try wearing an eye mask. Many studies suggest that having a cooler room is more ideal in order to get the best sleep possible. You could try lowering the room temperature while still having blankets to keep you warm enough.
7. The Right Mattress!- Of course having the perfect mattress is crucial to getting the best sleep possible. This process is highly individualized and it's important to note your sleeping position, pre-existing injuries, and desired level of firmness. We aim to make it easy to choose a top- quality mattress by highlighting some of the leading brands and mattresses on our website. Feel free to take a look throughout our website for some ideas.