What is sleep hygiene?

Good sleep habits (sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene”) can help you get a good night’s sleep.

By Speedoc Medical Team,
July 14, 2022

Sleep hygiene is a system of habits or practices that may help how fast you fall asleep and how uninterrupted that sleep will be. It is a combination of daily activities, your bedroom environment, a sleeping schedule, and the type of food in your diet. Bear in mind everyone sleeps differently, but fret not - all this can be tailored to your specific needs.

Why is sleep important?

As we all know, sleep is important for all ages because it provides recuperation in both physical and mental health. In order for that to happen, you need to carefully plan your daily routine to create healthy pre-sleep habits - this will result in better quality of sleep and a better self in the daytime. Adjusting your lifestyle for better sleep hygiene is not as difficult a task as you think it will be, but it does require effort.

How to know if you have poor sleep hygiene?

The usual signs of poor hygiene are:

  • Disturbed and interrupted sleep;

  • Frequent daytime sleepiness; and

  • Difficulty falling asleep even though you are tired.

How do you foster good sleep hygiene?

The simplest way to put this into words is that you need to find a good balance of the following ways. Here are some aspects you can consider adjusting:

Condition yourself to sleep. Like many things, sleep can be conditioned too. Your physical body can be trained to adhere to mind goals and will power.

  • Set a time to wake up and sleep. For example, if you want to wake up at 7am, you would need to fall asleep at 11pm latest - to get that full eight hours - even on the weekends. This trains your body and brain to get accustomed to the tempo of your choice.

  • Making small gradual adjustments. If you are working on shift or are in the midst of lifestyle adjustment, it is best to begin in small increments (minor changes, one at a time). You may find that you are biting off more than you can chew if you make drastic changes from the start.

  • Don’t take long naps. Naps can be good for rejuvenating yourself but too long of a nap can disrupt your nightly sleep rhythm. Keep naps earlier in the afternoon and only within 30 minutes to an hour.

Create a pre-sleep ritual. The way you head to bed will affect how easily you fall asleep. Here are a few tips to make it easier:

  • Follow a steady routine. You need to be consistent in your nightly routine - from brushing your hair to your skincare regime to putting on your PJs, etc.

  • Spare yourself some time to unwind. Find whatever that gets you in that relaxed mood. It can be soft music, light exercise, reading, or meditating.

  • Use dim lights. Bright light can halt production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that the brain releases to tell your body it is time to sleep.

  • Disconnect from electronics. Cut the use of electronics around 30 minutes – one hour before bed. Devices such as phones, computers, and TV emit blue light that also prevents melatonin production. These devices can over stimulate the mind and cause unrest.

Cultivate healthy daily activities. There are activities that you do in a day that may help to support your circadian rhythm and reduce loss of sleep.

  • Being under the sun. The sunlight will help to recalibrate your circadian rhythm.

  • Get physical. Engaging in physical activities like sports, workouts, or even sex will encourage your body to rest after - plus it comes with bodily benefits!

  • Stay away from smoking. Nicotine actually increases heart rates and tricks your body and brain into thinking you need to stay awake.

  • Keep alcohol to a minimum. Although alcohol may make you sleepy, the sleep that comes with it is not restful or good quality.

  • Cut caffeine in the late afternoons/evenings. You want your body to be able to eliminate caffeine in time for sleep.

  • Don’t eat too late. Digestion from eating a late dinner or supper will disrupt sleep as your body is still doing daytime work. A hearty, spicy, and/or oily meal will also cause discomfort.

Optimizing your bedroom. A core thing that goes hand-in-hand with high-quality sleep is a high-quality bedroom environment; basically, you want your room to be the best place to sleep in.

  • Use comfortable bedding. Consider picking the right bed for a pain-free, easy sleep. Pillow thickness to support your neck is equally as important. The texture of bed sheets and blankets play a role too, as these are in constant contact with your skin throughout the night.

  • Regulate the temperature. How cool the room is will affect your ability to fall asleep and/or continue sleeping. A quick tip is to take a warm/hot shower then go straight into a cool room - this tricks your body into thinking it has calmed down and results in making you fall asleep faster.

  • Blackout the room. Using thick and heavy curtains to block out light will help the body shift to night mode. An eye mask may help too.

  • Put on white noise. White noise works to drown out sound and produce a constant, soothing tone. A fan works just as well as a white noise machine. An extra tip is to use ear plugs to block noise.

Ultimately, your sleep is important. At the same time, sleep hygiene can vary from person to person. Knowing how to set up good sleep hygiene is key for everyone - it may help with serious insomnia or sleep apnea. Understandably, seek professional help to obtain the best treatment for you. If you are having sleep problems, you may want to obtain COMPLIMENTARY consultations with Speedoc Doctors to understand your condition and possible treatments.