One of the simplest ways to prepare for better sleep is to practise good sleep hygiene.Strong sleep hygiene entails having a sleeping environment as well as daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and distraction-free, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and developing healthy habits during the day can all contribute to good sleep hygiene. The practise of creating an environment that allows you to sleep restfully, adequately, and comfortably so that you feel energetic, alert, and mentally and emotionally balanced every day is collectively referred to as Sleep Hygiene.
Every sleeper can customise their sleep hygiene practises to meet their specific needs. In the process, you can cultivate positive habits that will make it easier to sleep soundly all night and wake up refreshed. When it comes to establishing good and healthy sleep hygiene, maintaining consistent sleeping patterns, creating an optimal sleeping environment, eating properly, and exercising on a regular basis are the several factors to be considered.
It is possible to develop good sleep hygiene in a few simple steps.
1. Follow a proper sleeping schedule
When you stick to a regular sleeping schedule, your body will develop its own natural rhythm, allowing you to feel more refreshed and energetic on a daily basis. To develop your sleep-wake cycle, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. In addition to feeling more energised, if your body consistently expects and receives sleep, you will be less prone to bouts of insomnia.
- The circadian rhythm (or sleep/wake cycle or body clock) is a natural system that everyone has that regulates feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period. This is controlled by a light-sensitive area of your brain. Maintaining a sleep cycle will assist in keeping your circadian rhythm in check.
- When creating your internal clock, it is critical that you wake up at the same time every day, even if you did not sleep well the night before.
- Don’t deviate from your regular schedule for more than 20 minutes, and if possible, don’t deviate at all.
- Adjust your bedtime to go to sleep earlier if you require the assistance of an alarm clock to wake you up each morning.
- Make Gradual Changes: If you want to change your sleep schedule, don’t try to do it all at once because it will throw your schedule out of whack.
- Don’t Nap Too Much: Naps can be a useful way to regain energy during the day, but they can disrupt sleep at night. To avoid this, try to keep naps brief and limited to the late afternoon.
2. Create a bedtime routine
Dedicate an hour before bedtime to pre-bedtime routines that help you unwind. Simply engaging in habitual activities will relax you and signal to your body that it is time to prepare for bed. Because you’ll be doing these activities every night, they won’t require much planning or thought, allowing you to physically and mentally prepare for sleep. Try
- Taking a hot bath
- Having a cup of lemon-flavored herbal tea
- completing crossword puzzles
- Read a book (but skip anything suspenseful or that might wind you up)
A pre-sleep playbook that includes some of these suggestions can help you relax and fall asleep when you want to. You can also adopt the following techniques to easily develop a consistent sleeping pattern:
- Consistent Routine: Following the same routine each night, such as putting on your pyjamas and brushing your teeth, can help to reinforce in your mind that it’s bedtime.
- Set 30 minutes to winding down: Use whatever helps you relax, such as soft music, light stretching, reading, and/or relaxation exercises.
- Adopt few relaxation techniques: It is often easier to focus on relaxation rather than falling asleep. Meditation, mindfulness, paced breathing, and other relaxation techniques can help you prepare for sleep.
3. Avoid using electronic gadgets before going to bed
Computers, phones, tablets, and televisions are all stimulants that should be avoided for at least one hour before going to bed. Even if you dim your screen to remove the brightness or blue light, electronic devices will keep your brain from fully winding down and will likely keep you from falling asleep at your scheduled time.
- Blue light emitted by electronic devices has been shown to interfere with your circadian rhythm. Consider wearing blue-blocking glasses at night or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength.
- At night, experiment with red lights (perhaps by changing the bulb on your bedside table to a red one). Red light has the least ability to disrupt circadian rhythms and suppress melatonin levels.
4. Wake up if you cannot sleep
Get out of bed if you find yourself unable to sleep because your mind is racing. Allow 10 minutes in bed before switching locations. When you do get up, don’t turn on the TV or check your phone. Instead, find a quiet chair in the dark and allow your mind to race.Get your thoughts out of your head, then go back to bed. This should be done as many times as necessary.
- Maintain a consistent wake-up time, no matter how many times you wake up during the night.
- Always keep a notebook and a pen on hand. If your mind doesn’t stop racing after 15 minutes, make a list of what you’re thinking about in your notebook, such as everything you need to do tomorrow or points you want to make in the conversation with your boss. Get the ideas down on paper so you don’t have to worry about them.
5. Take a quick and an early nap
Take a nap earlier in the day if you need to recharge during the day. Afternoon naps can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Also, keep your nap to less than half an hour — any longer and your sleep-wake cycle will be disrupted.
6. Making an Ideal Sleeping Environment
- Make use of your bed for sleeping: Your bed is for sleeping, though you may find yourself doing a variety of other things while attempting to sleep. If you want to read, listen to music, watch television, or surf the internet on your phone, move to another part of your room or house. Using your bed for sleeping and no other activities (except sex) signals your body and brain that it’s time to sleep and should reduce the amount of time you lie awake in bed.
- Check to see if your bed and pillows are comfortable: Which pillows and mattress you find the most comfortable is a personal preference. Some people prefer firm mattresses, while others prefer soft mattresses. Some people prefer pillow tops, while others prefer memory foam. Similarly, a down-filled pillow may appeal to you more than a synthetic filling. You’ll figure out which pillow and mattress combination is the most comfortable for you through trial and error.
- Remove all distractions. To get a good night’s sleep, make sure your room is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Because you have blankets on your bed, set your thermostat to be cooler rather than warmer. Making your room a comfortable, quiet, and distraction-free environment will help you get the most out of your sleep.
- Make use of a “white noise” sound machine: Even when you’re sleeping, your brain is still aware of every sound in the room, which can interfere with your overall quality of sleep by causing you to roll over, stir, or even wake up. A white noise sound machine produces a consistent, ambient sound that is a balance of background and foreground noises, effectively reducing the impact of room sounds.
- Light should be blocked out: To block out any light, however dim, in your room, use an eye mask or light-blocking curtains. Any light in a room, even a simple nightlight or streetlamp outside, will be registered by your brain, disrupting your body’s natural rhythms and sleep patterns and potentially preventing you from completing a full sleep cycle.
- Maintain a comfortable temperature in your room: Our body temperatures drop to promote sleep. If we are too hot or cold, our sleep may be disrupted or even prevented entirely.Set your thermostat to somewhere between 60 and 67 °F (15.6 to 19.4°C), which is the best temperature range to ensure that you are neither too hot nor too cold. What temperature you set your thermostat to within that range is entirely dependent on what is most comfortable for you.
7. Develop and Maintain Daily Healthy Habits
- Caffeinated beverages should be avoided before going to bed: Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, and soda, should not be consumed within six hours of going to bed.  Caffeine is a stimulant that has an effect on your heart rate, breathing, alertness, and brain activity. Caffeine consumption close to bedtime may prevent you from falling asleep and disrupt your sleep cycle.
- If you’re thirsty before bed, try a cup of warm herbal tea with lemon or a glass of lukewarm water.
- Caffeine can be found in a variety of products, including soda pop, chocolate, coffee, and even some pain relievers such as Excedrin.
- Before going to bed, eat smaller meals. Your stomach takes about three hours to process what you eat and then empty itself. Because your body relies on gravity to digest food, you must be sitting or standing upright after eating. Laying down during digestion slows the process and can cause some unpleasant side effects, the most common of which is acid reflux.
- Because your body relies on gravity to digest food, you must be sitting or standing upright after eating.
- Laying down during digestion slows the process and can cause some unpleasant side effects, the most common of which is acid reflux.
- Nicotine should be avoided: Nicotine (found in cigarettes and e-liquids) raises your heart rate, causing you to become more alert. It may also prevent you from falling asleep deeply, and nicotine withdrawal may cause you to wake up when you aren’t completely rested.
- Consult your physician to help you quit smoking.
- Regular exercise is essential: Exercise is not only good for your overall health, but it also acts as a natural stimulant. Exercise for 30-60 minutes per day will help your body secrete cortisol, a natural hormone that helps your body stay alert during the day. Exercise during the day, on the other hand, will help you sleep better at night, so just make sure you do it earlier in the day.
- Exercise for at least a few hours before going to sleep. This will keep your body from becoming overly stimulated and keeping you awake while you try to sleep.
- Allow yourself to be exposed to sunlight on a daily basis: Exposure to natural light will aid in the regulation of your body’s melatonin production at night. Melatonin is a natural hormone secreted by your body while you sleep that regulates not only your sleep patterns but also your health and other important biological functions.
- Spend time outside during the day by exercising or taking work breaks outside.
- During the day, open your window blinds or curtains in your home or office to expose yourself to sunlight.
Is Everyone’s Sleep Hygiene the same?
The basic concept of sleep hygiene — that your environment and habits can be optimised for better sleep — applies to almost everyone, but what ideal sleep hygiene looks like varies depending on the individual. As a result, it’s worth experimenting with different adjustments to see what works best for you. You don’t have to make drastic changes all at once; small steps can help you improve your sleep hygiene. It’s also important to understand that bettering one’s sleep hygiene does not always solve sleeping problems. People suffering from severe insomnia or sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea may benefit from improved sleep hygiene, but other treatments are usually required as well.
In other words, while sleep hygiene can be beneficial, it is not a cure-all. If you have long-term or severe sleeping problems, or if you are sleepy during the day, it is best to consult with a doctor who can recommend the best course of treatment for you.
Sleeping well is beneficial to both physical and mental health, as well as productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone, from children to the elderly, can benefit from better sleep, and sleep hygiene can help them achieve that goal. Fortunately, humans have a remarkable ability to shape our habits to serve our long-term interests. Creating an environment and a set of routines that support our goals can be extremely beneficial.
Sleep hygiene encompasses both environment and habits, and it can pave the way for better overall health and higher-quality sleep.