Sleep Hygiene

What is Sleep Hygiene?

The quality of our sleep each night is dependant on several factors. Our daily routine, the environment we sleep in and even our diet can play a part in the quality and consistency of our sleep patterns. It’s a combination of components, and it’s not always something we consider when we hit the hay.

Why Practise Good Sleep Hygiene?

Forming good habits around our bedtime routine is crucial for maintaining healthy sleep. It can positively or negatively impact our lives physically and mentally, so it’s certainly worth paying some attention to. It’s no secret that our body uses nighttime to repair and rebuild, so we can all benefit from a thorough, restful sleep. When we’re more rested, we feel less stressed, more productive and generally happier. We can implement simple tips into our daily routine, which will improve our sleep hygiene, reinforce good habits, and pave the way for better sleep.

Habits to Promote Good Sleep Hygiene

Certain habits will work better for some than others. Therefore, it’s about finding what works best for you, just like in fitness!

Routine

Going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day can be a real game-changer in improving our sleep and mood. As human beings, we function well from a certain level of structure. Sometimes, however, we cannot always control the different elements of our busy lives – so finding the areas where we can keep some discipline, gives us some grounding and predictability. Creating a routine also allows us to get our recommended amount of rest time which will support productivity during the day. In terms of the amount of sleep we need may differ from person to person, but general guidelines for a healthy adult is between 7-9 hours a night.

Screen Time

It’s very tempting to lay in bed and scroll aimlessly through your phone, but the truth of it is, exposing ourselves to this screen time close to bedtime could be damaging your quality of sleep. Bright lights can hinder melatonin production, a vital hormone the body releases to facilitate sleep, so opt for at least 30 minutes of downtime with dim lighting before you plan on sleeping. This gives your body a chance to fully prepare for rest.

Wind Down Thoroughly

Whether reading, a podcast or audiobook, devote some time to quality and enjoyable downtime before bed. Aim for dimmer lighting to help increase the production of melatonin and if you don’t fall asleep immediately, take some time to do more of your downtime activity. Stretching is also a great way to relax the body, release any physical aches and mentally prepare you for relaxation. Try our Yoga for Better Sleep programme with the lovely Beth to help soothe your mind and body.

The Sleeping Environment

What is the air temperature in your room? How comfortable is your bedding, and what is the quality of your mattress? Is your room dark enough? All of these things play a part in sleep hygiene too. Optimise your environment for the best possible state of relaxation and comfort. Opt for a slightly cooler setting, bedsheets cleaned at least every ten days and maybe even try some calming incense such as lavender, bergamot or ylang-ylang.

Diet Considerations

Cutting down on alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime is ideal for better sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant, so ideally, we need to stop consuming it sometimes before bed – a general rule of thumb is 6 hours before. As for alcohol, it may help us fall asleep, but in terms of promoting good quality, uninterrupted sleep, it does not come up trumps. The liver works to metabolise alcohol as soon as it is consumed, causing alterations in the body. Once the alcohol has been metabolised, and these adaptations aren’t necessary, your body suddenly recognises this, which is why you sometimes find yourself frustratingly waking up at 3am after a few hours on the sauce pre-bedtime. Alcohol is also dehydrating, which means your body holds on to the fluid it does have in order to stay hydrated, potentially leading to a 3am toilet trip!

 

If you’d like more advice on sleep, visit the NHS Every Mind Matters page for more information on how to get to sleep and advice on sleeping problems.