Sleep hygiene means practicing healthy sleep habits and behaviors that can improve your sleep. Your actions and environment during both the day and the evening can affect how much sleep you get and its quality, which plays a significant role in your physical and mental health.
Here are some of the ways you can build up your sleep hygiene habits:
- Stick to a fixed sleeping schedule
- Make your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions
- Follow a relaxing pre-bed routine
- Build healthy habits during the day
- Wear clean and comfortable clothes before going to bed
Why is sleep hygiene important?
Short-term consequences of sleep deprivation include:
- Increased stress
- Reduced quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Mood disorders
- Cognitive, memory and performance deficits
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Gastrointestinal issues
By improving your sleep hygiene, you can reduce sleep disturbances and counteract insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. And doing so has zero risks or costs.
How can you practice good sleep hygiene?
Here are some tips for practicing good sleep hygiene before going to bed:
- Follow a nighttime routine that allows time for relaxing activities.
- Be consistent in waking up and sleeping around the same times each day, including weekends or holidays.
- Create a healthy sleep environment that includes dim lights and a comfortable room temperature that make you feel relaxed upon entering the room.
- Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Switch off all electronic devices such as TV, computers and smartphones at least an hour before bed.
- If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Do a short activity without much light exposure. Avoid using electronics during this time.
- Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
- Avoid caffeine intake several hours before bedtime.
- Avoid large meals with high-fat contents and alcohol before bedtime.
- Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.
During the day, follow these tips to get a peaceful night's sleep:
- Get enough exercise.
- Get enough sunlight exposure.
- Avoid smoking (nicotine disrupts sleep).
- Consume only moderate amounts of alcohol.
You can also optimize your bedroom environment by doing the following:
- Choose a comfortable mattress and pillow.
- Invest in high quality sheets and blankets.
- Use a heavy curtain or an eye mask to prevent light from disturbing your sleep.
- Cut out noise by using earplugs or a white noise machine.
- Try calming scents to help you relax.
Keep in mind that good sleep hygiene varies from person to person. What may work for one person may not work for others. So customize your sleep routine and learn what works best for you.
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