What are sleep hygiene tips for better sleep?
- Commit to a regular sleep schedule
- Avoid napping during daytime
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption before sleep
- Be physically active during the day
- Have a sleep-inducing bedroom environment
- Restrict in-bed activities
You — like us — have probably heard of the term “sleep hygiene” before. Today, sleep hygiene tackles concerns regarding poor sleep and provides a potential treatment for sleep disorders. But what is sleep hygiene and what does it entail? Let’s delve deeper into this discussion and how sleep hygiene tips can help you build better sleep habits.
Extensive research has shown that good quality sleep has a central role in good health, improving cognitive functions, productivity, and overall quality of life. But despite its importance, over the past years, people’s sleep quality has declined with a concerning percentage of 1 in 3 adults not getting enough proper sleep.
Sleep hygiene is the key to having good quality sleep. It encompasses having a bedroom environment and committing to daily routines that promote good sleep habits. This is the primary reason why following sleep hygiene tips has been known to counteract symptoms of insomnia.
Advice for good sleep hygiene includes a long list of methods that have been proven to be beneficial for healthy sleep in the past. You can adapt these 6 tips to fit your needs. Read on to learn more.
Commit To A Regular Sleep Schedule
Committing to a regular sleep schedule gets your body and brain accustomed to getting adequate sleep you need for daily life. A regular sleep schedule facilitates increasingly stable sleep patterns over time. This is also one of the best ways to reinforce one of the body’s most important circadian rhythms known as the sleep-wake cycle.
If you want to foster good sleep hygiene, then you need to incorporate the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep into your daily schedule. To calculate your target bedtime, consider your wake-up time and work backward. Regardless of whether it’s a weekday or whether you’ll be tempted to sleep in during the weekend, try to have a fixed sleep schedule.
Take note that if you want to shift your sleep schedule, you should make gradual adjustments in 15 or 30-minute increments over a series of days. This will help you keep a regular routine and avoid bouncing between sleepless nights and oversleeping.
Avoid Napping During Daytime
Excessive napping during the daytime can confuse your body’s natural sleep cycle by compromising the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, disrupting your ability to fall asleep at night.
To commit to a regular sleep schedule, take caution with daytime naps. If you are incredibly sleep-deprived, the best time to nap is in the early to mid-afternoon with a limit of around 10 to 20 minutes.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption Before Sleep
Alcohol has sedative effects that can induce feelings of sleepiness and relaxation, but excessive alcohol consumption has also been associated with poor sleep hygiene. Drinking alcohol before bedtime can add to the suppression of the REM sleep stage as liver enzymes metabolize the alcohol.
As the night progresses, this decreases overall sleep quality, resulting in increased sleep fragmentation and daytime sleepiness. To promote good sleep hygiene, it’s best to stop drinking alcohol at least four hours before bedtime.
Meanwhile, caffeine is a natural psychoactive substance widely used in foods and beverages including coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, energy drinks, and chocolate. You might be tempted to consume caffeine for its energizing and alertness-promoting effects, but this approach is not ideal for practicing good sleep hygiene.
Caffeine notably reduces the duration of slow-wave sleep, which is the stage of deep and restorative sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed and alert in the morning. Moreover, caffeine-interrupted sleep can result in insomnia and impaired cognitive function throughout the day.
Given that consuming caffeine can be both beneficial and harmful, it is important to drink it in moderation. It is also recommended to avoid caffeinated drinks at least 6 hours before your bedtime.
Be Physically Active During The Day
There are many benefits to exercising regularly ranging from improved physical function (i.e., reduced risks of developing chronic diseases, decreased risk of excessive weight gain), improved mental health, and overall good life quality.
Exercise can also improve sleep hygiene for many people. According to a study, about 76% to 83% of respondents who engage in light, moderate, or vigorous exercise experience very good and fairly good sleep quality. For those who did not exercise, this figure significantly dropped to 56%.
Moderate to vigorous exercise increases sleep quality by reducing sleep onset latency, which is the time it takes to fall asleep. As a result, exercise can help alleviate the need for sleep medications and reduce excessive daytime sleepiness. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day but not later than 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Have A Sleep-Inducing Bedroom Environment
A central component of sleep hygiene encompasses your bedroom environment. To get better quality, you would want to make your bedroom conducive to sleep.
You can try the following tips to ensure your bedroom provides sleep comfort and tranquility:
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool
- Invest in a comfortable and high-quality mattress, pillow, and bed linen
- Elimite noise or try a white noise machine to drown out bothersome noise
- Use calming scents (i.e, lavender) to induce a calmer state of mind
Restrict In-Bed Activities
Many people tend to do a wide array of in-bed activities such as using gadgets when trying to fall asleep. Unfortunately, numerous studies have also established that using gadgets increases sleep onset latency because of the emitted blue light.
To build a link in your mind and body between being in bed and sleeping, you should use the bed only for sleep with activities like sexual intercourse being the exception.
In this article, we’ve rounded up 6 sleep hygiene tips. Keep in mind these tips are not set in stone and you can adapt according to your needs. You can always start with small changes and work your way up toward building healthier sleep habits.