Sleep hygiene is an important part of maintaining healthy sleep and improving sleep quality. Research and studies have identified habits and behaviors, or sleep hygiene, that help you get the sleep you’ve always wanted. With one in three adults in the U.S. not getting enough sleep, according to the CDC, sleep hygiene is an important aspect of our health many aren’t giving
Achieving sleep hygiene takes work and practice. Here are a few tips to start good habits to improve, or establish your sleep hygiene.
For more tips, skip to the infographic below.
Good habits start with a routine. Establishing a bedtime routine will let your body know it’s time for bed. One of the most common and effective ways to wind down is with a warm bath or shower. Taking a warm bath or shower up to 90 minutes before bed increases sleep quality.
We’re constantly plugged in and on our devices-and it’s wrecking our sleep. Blue light from our phones, tablets, and televisions limit the production of melatonin and keep us awake. For the best sleep hygiene, shut down your electronics a few hours before bed.
Also, turn off any notifications, vibrate alerts, or lights on your devices that can wake you up or distract you before bed.
Regular exercise is one of the cornerstones of good health. Luckily, there are positive connections to sleep and exercise. Combining the two can lead to improved health and good habits. Intense exercise like running or heavy weightlifting can cause sleep disruptions, so it’s best to keep those activities to daylight hours.
Most of us can’t get through their day without their cup of joe. According to a study, up to 83% of adults in the United States consume caffeine daily. While nothing is as tasty as that first sip of coffee, indulging in an afternoon pick-me-up can cost you sleep later. Caffeine, a natural stimulate, works by interacting with your brain’s adenosine receptors that control sleep, alertness, and wakefulness.
When consuming caffeine, these receptors are blocked, sometimes up to 50% with the effects of caffeine lasting anywhere from 3 to 5 hours after consumption. Consuming caffeine closer to bedtime can cause sleep disruptions that leave you tossing and turning and potentially consuming more caffeine the following day, creating a vicious cycle of poor sleep. If you still want your daily fix, experts advise not to have caffeine after 2:00 p.m.
Like caffeine, an afternoon power nap can help you get through the day and make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Not only can napping prevent you from falling asleep at night, it can also make you more prone to waking up at night once you do fall asleep. The occasional nap won’t ruin your sleep forever. Studies have shown a midday nap is beneficial for cognitive functioning and creativity. If you need an afternoon siesta, it’s best to keep it short-about 10 to 20 minutes so you don’t disrupt your nighttime sleep too much.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but we don’t realize how uncomfortable we are in our spaces until we can’t sleep. A room, or weather, that is too hot or too cold can wreck your sleep and leave you waking up a sweaty mess or hunting for more blankets. Room temperature is one of the key aspects to achieving good sleep.
Our internal body temperature shifts throughout the day-with the lowest temperatures around daybreak and the highest before bed, which is why a warm bath helps lower our body temperature before bed. Keeping your room cool helps, too. Numerous studies have shown the optimal temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees. If you find yourself waking up too hot, try lowering the thermostat before bed.
As it gets dark outside, inside should match. Natural light during the day helps regulate circadian rhythms, dimming the lights at night finishes the job. Dimming indoor lights helps your body prepare for sleep by releasing melatonin.
Keeping the lights on, or at least too bright, inhibits melatonin production and keeps you awake. Research shows exposure to bright lights before bed delays and shortens your sleep. Exposure to light at night is also linked to anxiety and depression.
Managing anxiety is easier said than done. For those who suffer from chronic or even occasional anxiety, now how difficult it is to sleep with anxiety. Managing anxiety is vital to sleep hygiene. Anxiety is linked to sleep disorders like insomnia and chronic nightmares. What calms anxiety for one person might not work for another. Common ways to reduce anxiety in order to sleep include:
What works for one person might not work for another. Try a few different techniques to see what works best for you. If you are still experiencing anxiety that interferes with sleep, talk to your doctor.
As cozy as it is to lie in bed and scroll through your phone, read, use your computer, or cuddle with your dog, those comforting activities can cost you sleep.
A study conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway found that not exclusively using your bed for sleep and sex caused decreased sleep time, impaired cognition, sleep cycle disturbances. To keep your sleep hygiene in check, it’s best to avoid using your bed for anything other than its intended purpose.
Mediation is having a moment. Thanks to smartphone apps and studies touting the benefits of mediation, the practice has grown from an underground movement to a well-documented way to get to sleep.
Adding mindfulness meditation techniques to your routine is proven to help you sleep. A study of middle-age adults found that those who completed a mindfulness meditation awareness program as a part of a sleep hygiene clinic, reported improved sleep, less insomnia, and improved depression.
Everyone who has ever had a drink knows alcohol can relax you and even put you to sleep. This depressant substance is falsely considered a sleep aid. The short-term effects of alcohol do promote sleep. However, in the long run, alcohol limits vital restorative sleep and leads to ill health. One study found that even one drink before bed can decrease your sleep quality by up to 24%. For healthy sleep hygiene, it is best to avoid alcohol before bed and if you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor.
That early morning sunshine that helps you wake up will also come in handy at bedtime. Not only does sunlight improve your mood, increase serotonin levels, and provide the all-important Vitamin D, catching some daily rays helps regulate circadian rhythms and aids in sleep. Regular exposure to sunlight also helps regulate melatonin production later at night.
For those who work night shifts or other irregular hours, getting regular sun can be a challenge. If you miss out on daylight hours, try a sunlight lamp. These lamps mimic natural light and are proven to help with seasonal depression (SAD) as well as regulate circadian rhythms.
Practicing good sleep hygiene is vital to getting the most out of your sleep time. If you’ve been experiencing issues with sleep, try some of these tips to see how they impact your sleep. For even more sleep tips, read our blogs.