Maintaining healthy sleep hygiene is one of the easiest methods to support overall health and wellness. Healthy sleep hygiene means having both daytime and pre-sleep habits and routines that promote quality sleep. It also involves proper sleeping conditions, less stress, following a relaxing pre-bed routine and reducing alcohol to build healthy daily habits.
However, it could be a challenge for modern people to have healthy sleep hygiene. Stress, pressure, responsibilities and the speed of modern life make it challenging for people to have enough sleep and not talk about following some rules. However, the truth is that we all have different sleeping needs, so we don’t need to worry about following the rigid rules that scientists provide. You can adjust your sleep hygiene to your lifestyle and daily habits.
Why Is Sleep Hygiene Vital?
Sleep is essential for health and wellness. However, you need to get quality sleep where you can easily fall asleep and sleep for at least 7 hours every night. Sleep issues and chronic lack of sleep can contribute to many health problems. For example, poor sleep makes us feel tired, unfocused, hungry and moody the next day.
But when you chronically have poor sleep quality, it may even lead to health diseases, like obesity, heart diseases and skin issues as well. Obtaining healthy sleep hygiene is the key step to having a quality night’s rest. Having enough sleep helps you promote both physical and mental health, increasing productivity and concentration, reducing appetite and speeding up metabolism.
Studies found that forming healthy habits is a central part of sleep. Creating and following sustainable and beneficial routines allow people to establish healthy behaviours that feel almost automatic, which helps promote better sleep quality. On the flip side, bad habits can become engrained even as they cause negative consequences.
Principles of Sleep Hygiene
Healthy sleep hygiene is made up of two categories. One category refers to guidelines you should follow during the day and the second one is about pre-sleep rituals. Daytime includes the following:
Create & Follow a Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule
One of the simplest yet effective ways to improve your sleep hygiene is maintaining a healthy sleep and waking-up schedule. This means hitting the hay and waking up at the same time. In case you want to achieve the best results, sleep experts recommend you follow this schedule even during weekends. This will help you to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm (inner clocks), so you will quickly train your body to the schedule.
Reduce Nap Time
Even though napping is vital for some people to get a quick energy boost, sleep experts say that it can confuse our inner clocks and make it hard to fall asleep at night. Therefore, you need to be careful with how long you nap. If you need to refresh your mind and get an energy boost during the day, nap for about 30 minutes before 3 p.m. Studies show that short naps allow you to feel refreshed without the cognitive impairment and effect on night rest.
Exercising regularly allows you to achieve both physical and mental health. Physical activity during the day will help you get an energy boost in the morning, increase focus, promote wellness and help you feel more tired by the evening. Although you may feel exhausted after exercising, we do not recommend workouts too close to bedtime since it will only make it harder to fall and stay asleep as you will have too much energy.
Nicotine products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco can interfere with healthy sleep. Studies found that people smoking cigarettes tend to have a poorer sleep in contrast to those who don’t smoke. Even if you smoke, try to do it at least 4 hours before hitting the sack.
Avoid Heavy Meals at Night
It is recommended to get a light dinner, so you can be satisfied but not full. A heavy stomach makes it harder to fall asleep. But you should also not feel starving since it will also affect how you fall asleep.
Relax Before Sleep
Stress and racing thoughts are currently the biggest causes of poor sleep quality. Since stress causes tension, you may not feel relaxed and ready to fall asleep. This usually leads to restless sleep and insomnia. There are many ways to relax and soothe your nerves before going to bed. For example, a sound of rain app produces sleep-inducing sounds for your relaxation.
Other useful applications like mesmerize app provides expertly crafted guided meditations, engaging visuals and soothing psycho-acoustic music to help clear your mind, reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
Limit Using Gadgets
Mobile phones, la[tops, televisions, and computers all produce blue light through their screens. This light has been shown to damage sleep quality and one’s ability to fall asleep when used too late. That is because the light produced by gadgets suppresses the production of melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone our brain releases in the evening and helps us fall asleep. That is why it is recommended to avoid using phones or checking social media at least 1 hour before sleep.
Create Convenient Sleeping Conditions
Having a convenient bedroom and a cosy sleeping environment is an excellent way to achieve healthier sleep. This includes a comfortable pillow, mattress, and temperature. The room should also be quiet and dark. We also recommend moving the alarm away if you tend to delay the alarm in the morning. Experts say that the ideal sleeping temperature is between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Get Out of Bed When You Can’t Sleep
Restless sleep means you can’t fall asleep within 15-30 minutes after going to bed. If you don’t want to cause extra stress and racing thoughts, getting out of bed and going to another room is the optimum choice. Lying for too long in bed if you can’t fall asleep can negatively impact overall sleep quality. Go to another room and try some calming activities, like reading or meditating. Go back to sleep only when you are really tired.