What is Sleep Hygiene?
Getting enough good quality sleep is essential for maintaining physical, emotional and mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep increases your productivity, energy levels, and overall quality of life. Basically, it’s pretty important.
When it comes to getting a good night sleep, it’s the most basic things that make the biggest difference: sleeping on the right mattress, getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and practicing good sleep hygiene. So what exactly is sleep hygiene? Though it may sound complicated, it’s simply a variety of different practices and habits that lead to good sleep quality.
If you want to improve your sleep quality, it's a good idea to tend to your sleep hygiene. Curious how to do so? Here are some tips that will help you develop better sleep hygiene:
- Set the stage. A huge part of good sleep hygiene is making sure your environment (aka your bedroom) is conducive to a relaxing night of rest. Make sure you’re sleeping on a comfortable mattress with cozy bedding. Set the thermostat somewhere between 60-67 degrees. Put your electronics in airplane mode. Clean up any clutter lying around. If there are any noises out of your control, try earplugs or a white noise machine. If you want to go the extra mile, you could try diffusing some lavender essential oil or lighting a candle (just don’t fall asleep without blowing it out!).
- Limit your naps. It's important to note that although naps can sometimes help get us through the day, they don't make up for improper sleep. In fact, they can actually disrupt the sleep we do get later on in the night. If you do find yourself needing a nap, try to limit it to 20-30 minutes to avoid nighttime sleep disruptions.
- Mind what you're consuming. Try avoiding stimulants like alcohol and caffeine at least 3 hours before bed. Additionally, try staying away from heavy, oily, rich foods in the hours before bed. Both can lead to trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Pay attention to light. Try spending a couple minutes outside each day, as getting adequate light exposure during the day actually regulates your circadian rhythm and helps you sleep better at night. At the end of the day, try to minimize your exposure to blue light lamps, TV screens, laptops and cellphones at least 30 minutes before bed. Finally, try to make your bedroom as dark as possible, and consider investing in a sleep mask or blackout curtains.
- Establish a routine. Routines are one of the most effective ways to shift our energy and train our bodies to adapt to a certain bedtime. Your routine could include reading while sipping a cup of chamomile tea, taking a warm shower, or doing a gentle stretching routine. The key is to pick something that relaxes you, and then do it at the same time each night.
If you’re implementing these tips and still having trouble falling asleep, take a look at your mattress. If it’s old or uncomfortable, it can be a lot harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, and the sleep you do manage to get is more likely to be of poor quality. It's important to check in with the state of your mattress on a regular basis to see if it's supporting you, or working against you.
Additionally, sometimes we forget that we too change, and as we do, our ideal mattress changes with us. If you’re finding that you’re just not comfortable anymore, or are not getting the best sleep you can, it might be time to reevaluate. If you find that you do need a new mattress, visit one of Sleep First’s locations, where our sleep experts will be glad to talk through your needs and guide you towards the best mattress for you.
If you find you're still having trouble after trying everything else, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about potential undiagnosed sleep disorders. Because sleep? It’s everything.