What Is Sleep Hygiene And Why It’s Helpful For You
7 min read
For many of us, melting into bed after a busy day is something to look forward to. But, sometimes drifting off to dreamland isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
Between a lumpy bed or hours of scrolling through your phone, your sleep hygiene habits may be a hurdle between you and a restful night’s sleep.
But, what is sleep hygiene and why is it important? You may be surprised at how easy it can be to incorporate some simple slumber-encouraging tips into your nightly routine.
Simply put, sleepy hygiene is the blanket term used to describe an array of ‘good sleep’ habits (1). It’s a variety of practices that can be put in place to help you drift off to sleep, enjoy a restful night’s sleep, and tackle the next day feeling refreshed(2).
Sleep hygiene is based on the idea that by making some simple lifestyle adjustments and shifting your attitude towards sleep, you may be able to improve the quality of your slumber when your head hits the pillow.
Practising sleep hygiene technique is one of the easiest ways you may be able to improve your sleep schedule. As many of us already know, getting a good night of rest is important because when you are lacking sleep, you may have trouble concentrating during the day and your mood may fluctuate(3). This is where adding some sleep hygiene tips to your bedtime routine may help you to slumber peacefully.
If you’re looking to re-evaluate your sleep hygiene habits, these simple tips may be a handy place to start:
Constructing a regular night-time routine can signal to your body that you’re ready to rest and help it recognise when it’s time for sleep (3). Some things you may like to include in your routine may be reading a book, light stretching or limiting your screen time.
While napping doesn’t make up for a night of inadequate sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes may help to support your alertness throughout the day (1). But, you’ll want to avoid snoozing for any longer than 30 minutes as this may impact your sleep quality during the night.
Squeezing as little as 10 minutes of exercise into your day may help to aid your sleep quality (4). This may be as easy as taking a few laps around the block on your lunch break, or heading to the beach for a swim in the afternoon. Keep in mind that you’ll want to avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime as this may disrupt the calming, relaxing mood you’re trying to elicit through your bedtime routine.
Your bedroom should be an inviting place to slumber as the environment you sleep in is important for supporting your sleep. Your body should come to recognise that the bedroom is for sleeping rather than other tasks, which may help you drift off easily. Ensuring you have a comfortable mattress and bedding, dimmer lighting than in other parts of your house, and a comfortable temperature can all contribute to supporting restful sleep.
Although it can be hard to do, leaving technology out of the bedroom is also important. The artificial blue light emitted from your phone, TV and other devices may suppress the release of melatonin (commonly known as the sleep hormone), controls the body’s night and day cycles (5).
Dozing off and waking up at roughly the same times every day can help to ‘set’ your body clock (also known as the circadian rhythm). Although this may be challenging to establish at first, getting in tune with your body clock can help you become drowsy at the same time each evening and make it easier to fall asleep (6).
Exposure to light during your waking hours can also help set your body clock. An easy way to do this is by leaving your blinds or curtains open ajar, so that as you wake up in the morning your body can register the light outside and recognise that it’s daytime.
Staying in bed if you can’t sleep can often make you feel annoyed and frustrated, which can also cause you to associate your bed with a lack of sleep. This is the opposite of what you need to help achieve a solid night of rest (7).
So, if you’re finding yourself lying awake in bed after 20-30 minutes of trying to sleep, it can be helpful to get up and do something else in a dimly lit room (outside of the bedroom). Sleepiness comes in waves, so stay there until you feel tired and your eyes start to feel heavy, then go back to bed (8).
Being conscious of your sleep hygiene can be a handy way to help you doze off for a good night’s rest. These simple tips are some examples of what you can add into your bedtime routine where you see fit.
If you have any concerns about your sleeping habits, contact your local healthcare professional.
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