Good quality sleep can make a big difference in your quality of life. Having healthy sleep habits is often referred to as having good sleep hygiene, It involves a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.
Why is it important to practice good sleep hygiene?
Obtaining healthy sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. It can also improve productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone, from children to older adults, can benefit from practicing good sleep habits.
One of the most important sleep hygiene practices is to spend an appropriate amount of time asleep in bed, not too little or too excessive. Sleep needs vary across ages and are primarily impacted by lifestyle and health. However, some recommendations can provide guidance on how much sleep you need generally. Other good sleep hygiene practices include
Try to keep the following sleep practices on a consistent basis
- Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it harder to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
- Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
- Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool around 18C, and free from any noise and light that can disturb your sleep. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up
The following have also been found to help some people.
- Use bright light to help manage your circadian rhythms. Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning. This will keep your circadian rhythms in check.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can disrupt sleep. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime.
- The Wind-down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. For some people, using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep, because the particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night.
- If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine.
If you Are still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor. You may also benefit from recording your sleep in a Sleep Diary to help you better evaluate common patterns or issues you may see with your sleep or sleeping habits.