Ever wonder what experts mean by sleep hygiene? Here is what you need to know and what you need to do. Here is a breakdown of what the best sleep hygiene is made of.
If you fail to get enough, consistent sleep every night, then it means that you don't have the right sleep routines that promote good sleep. Sleep hygiene is the disciplined process of sleeping every night where you make pre-planned steps to ensure that you get a good night's sleep.
It means having a conducive bedroom environment and positive daily routines to help you sleep better, for longer. It would help if you had a stable schedule, free of disruptions, including building healthy habits during the day, winding down, having a relaxing pre-bed routine, and making your bedroom as comfortable as possible.
If you tailor your sleeping routine to fit your needs, you'll sleep more quickly, sleep well through the night, wake up feeling more relaxed and well-rested.
Why is Sleep Hygiene Important?
Excellent Physical and Mental Health
People who get enough quality sleep every night often wake up feeling relaxed and fresh. Getting this feeling is great for all people but more, especially for those who have very active daily routines. If you have demanding daily routines, you need to sleep well; otherwise, you might experience burnout.
Good sleep helps relax your muscles, re-energize your body, and help initiate your body's negative feedback homeostasis loop, which positively responds to bodily functions. This process allows you to wake up with enough energy ready to tackle the following day’s activities.
Sleep also plays a significant role in your mental state. People who've been diagnosed with mental health problems either have trouble sleeping or sleep a lot. Sleeping is part of your body's response to stress.
Sometimes, if you lose sleep at night or you can't sleep because of some stress, then it's your body's way of giving you time to work on the problem. It burns its surplus energies to provide you with that extra time to find a solution to the issue.
Your brain can also lose a lot of energy during this period, and when you're done, it may need to re-energize. That's why periods of extreme stress are followed by periods of intense sleep.
Good habits are essential and central to having good health, both physically and mentally. Making good habits takes the same effort as making bad ones. Changing bad habits for good ones is easy. You have to change one small thing at a time using positive reinforcements.
What are the Signs of Poor Sleep Hygiene?
You know you have poor sleep hygiene when:
- You find it hard to go to sleep at night.
- You find it hard to stay asleep at night.
- You suffer from daytime sleepiness.
- You have an overall inconsistency in sleep quality and quantity.
Habits That Comprise Healthy Sleep Hygiene
It would be best if you incorporated your sleep hygiene around your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is your body's natural internal process that's responsible for your sleep-wake cycle. It takes roughly twenty-four hours to complete.
If you want to create good sleep hygiene, you need to have a good daytime routine.
Get Daily Exposure to Sunlight
Exposing yourself to sunlight helps keep your body in sync with the circadian rhythm. Doing this helps your body schedule itself on when you need to sleep and when you need to wake up.
Be Physically Active
Being active during the day uses energy, making it easier to sleep at night. It would help if you also made a habit of exercising in the evening to get rid of all the surplus energy to avoid restless periods at night.
Avoid Alcohol and Smoking.
You should avoid drinking alcohol in the evening and smoking altogether. Cigarettes contain tobacco, a stimulant that can keep you awake at night when smoked. Alcohol can also make you dehydrated, which might cause you to have headaches and make it harder for you to sleep. It's also been known to cause insomnia and sleep apnea.
Avoid Caffeine in the Afternoon and Evening.
Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and some sodas, is a stimulant that can keep you wired, making it harder for you to sleep at night. You should limit its intake to morning and mid-morning. Also, don't use caffeine as compensation for lack of sleep.
Don’t Dine Late
Eating late dinners means that you'll be digesting the food late into the night when you should be sleeping. The digestive process takes about three hours. Therefore, you should take your meals for about three hours and thirty minutes before you go to bed.
Read more, Is It Bad to Sleep After Eating?
Have a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Having a consistent bedtime routine helps reinforce the idea in your mind that it's time to go to bed. If you go to bed by nine, for instance, you could have a routine whereby you take a shower, change into your pajamas, and brush your teeth daily. The mind interprets this as the time to go to bed.
Take Thirty Minutes to Wind Down
You should take thirty minutes to wind down and get ready for bed. You could listen to some music, read or do some light stretching. Doing this helps your mind wind down and also enables you to relax and get ready to sleep.
If you want to sleep better, you should unplug from your electronics. Laptop and smartphone displays produce light that's counterproductive for sleep. Unplugging helps you sleep quicker at night.
Have a Comfortable Bed
Set a Cold Temperature on Your Thermostat
The cold temperature helps you sleep better. Ever wonder why you always sleep better when it's raining? As you sleep, your body temperature dips to conserve energy. Setting a warm temperature in your bedroom will leave you sweating in your sheets, making it harder for you to sleep.
Block Out the Light and Drown Out the Noise
You could fit your windows with heavy curtains that block out all light. You could also use earplugs or a white noise machine to block or drown out any noises that might keep you awake at night.
Excellent sleep hygiene is just a string of good habits and small changes that lead to more significant results. If you want to sleep better at night, you need to start small; if that's your style, buildup slowly, using positive reinforcement techniques.
Having good sleep hygiene is just the beginning of an extraordinary life. If you keep it up, you'll be reaping its benefits sooner than you think. Sleep better; stay healthy!