You’ve probably heard about the term ‘sleep hygiene’. Now as you may or may not know, sleep hygiene is a very misunderstood term. It has little to do with staying clean while you sleep, but more to do with healthy bedtime rituals and positive nightly habits.
Following a proper sleep hygiene will naturally help you achieve a better night sleep. Every person is different in their own habits, behaviours, and rituals that they practice at nighttime before bed. Staying up at night or sleeping in late to catch up on lost sleep is an example of poor bedtime rituals and a bad sleep hygiene.
Instead, many healthcare professionals recommended to have a regular and consistent sleep schedule and set of practices which can help you achieve better sleep, both in the short and the longterm.
The Importance of Good Sleeping Habits
Many people underestimate how important a proper sleeping schedule is, but these same people also often get less sleep every night, battle with insomnia and other sleep disorders. Having a good sleep on a regular basis is one of the surest ways of maintaining a balanced and healthy life, mentally, physically and emotionally.
A good sleep hygiene will help you regulate your moods, stay focused during the day and improve your productivity. It is an easy, effortless and natural way to ensure you function properly from day to day.
Signs of Bad Sleep Hygiene
Not having a proper nighttime ritual or habits in place leads to bad sleep hygiene. Signs that you aren’t getting good and proper sleep each night include waking up tired or feeling unrested, being tired throughout the day, waking up frequently during the night or having trouble falling asleep.
Luckily, these problems can go away when you start to practice a better sleeping ritual.
Signs of Good Sleep Hygiene
You might be one of the lucky people who instinctively practice good sleep hygiene. For good sleep hygiene, the below factors need to be found or created in the bedroom:
- Quiet – for most, a quiet bedroom is important when wanting to fall asleep easily and quickly
- Temperature – the bedroom must not be too hot or too cold, cooler temperature is often the best
- Dark – a light bedroom will not be conducive to sleep, the darker the room the better the sleep
- Comfort – a comfortable bed makes a world of difference when having a good night’s sleep
Healthy Habits for Optimal Sleep
To improve your sleep hygiene, make your way through the list below of how to practice healthy bedtime rituals, even if you start with one at a time. They will all work together to provide a good and restful sleep routine for you to wake up feeling fresh and ready to conquer the day.
1. The right amount of sleep
There is such a thing as getting too much sleep which for some can be just as troublesome as the more common scenario which is too little sleep. Your sleep needs will change throughout life depending on age, health, but generally, for most adults 7-8 hours of sleep a night is enough and well.
You will know your body better than anyone else so you will be able to work out for yourself if you need more or less than this amount. For example some yogi’s, i.e. those superhumans that practice yoga many hours a day, feel supercharged and awake just after 4-5 hours of sleep while for most this amount would be too little.
2. Have a routine
Your innate “body clock” is an important factor when it comes optimal sleep. By going to bed at the same time every night you will be training your body to feel tired and primed for sleep at this time each night. It is also just as important to wake up at the same time every day if you can, making it all the easier for your body to know when it is time to wake up and start functioning.
This might take a while to get used to, especially if you wake up frequently at night, but our bodies are wonderful machines and they can adjust themselves to just about anything if you give them time.
3. Sleep in peace
Quiet rooms help many people fall asleep and perhaps more importantly stay asleep throughout the night. However, some people simply cannot fall asleep when it is too quiet. White noise might be a solution for this, it helps calm anxiety and can even phase out outside noise interference.
4. The right sleeping environment
Your bedroom needs to be a place of rest, and the best way to ensure this is by having an uncluttered, dark and cool bedroom. Block out the sun with thick blinds or curtains to keep your bedroom dark. Generally the right temperature for your room is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15-16° Celsius, so achieve this either through open windows, air conditioning or through the use of fans.
5. Don’t use your bed for anything other than sleep
So many of us are in the habit of lying on our phones at night scrolling through social media or catching up on some work on the laptop just before falling asleep. Doing this stops your brain from associating your bed only with sleep, and could make it really difficult for you to fall asleep at night.
One suggestion, which is easier said than done, is to only use your bed for sleeping, in time your brain with recognize this new routine of yours and induce a deeper tiredness when you do get into bed to sleep.
6. Follow a routine
Just like children, adults need a routine to help them properly wind down before bed. A relaxing nighttime routine will help tell your brain when it is time to switch off and rest.
- Turn off all electronic distractions
- Have a warm shower or bath
- Relax and calm your breathing
- Read a book using a soft light
- Do some light forms of self-massage
7. Avoid long day naps
Taking naps during the day can be a necessity for some, but naps during the day that are too long might mean your body isn’t tired enough when it comes to bedtime. If you must have a nap during the day, try power nap for only 20-minutes. This is all your body needs to feel re-energized, and it won’t be long enough to interfere with your nighttime sleep.
Your first step to ensuring a good night’s sleep over and over again is to start improving your sleep hygiene by adopting healthier sleeping habits and rituals. You will notice a difference not only with restful sleep, but you will find yourself more productive during the day, maintaining a healthy life emotionally, physically and mentally.