To feel better while being awake, we need to sleep at night. Still, many of us don’t wake up in the mornings feeling fresh and rested. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do by ourselves to improve our sleep and create better habits. Sleep hygiene refers to different routines and habits that help you to get a good night’s sleep. In addition, you should pay attention to your bedroom environment.
Why talking about sleep hygiene is important?
Sleep hygiene is affected by many factors. For example, what time are we usually going to bed, are we exercising regularly, how much time we spend behind the screens, what are our evening routines – are we consuming alcohol before bedtime, or watching some psychological thriller late at night and so on.
Creating healthy sleep hygiene and maintaining this routine is especially important for both your physical and mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep is important at every stage of life. Therefore, it is essential to start creating strong sleeping habits already at an early age.
Research has shown that human beings are effective in forming habits. By consciously crafting pre-sleep routines and healthy habits, these actions soon become automatic, which will reinforce the effect, improving our sleep quality and life in general.
The need for sleep may vary over time, thus it is important to pay attention to your sleep habits at all ages. That´s why there is a lot of talk about baby sleep-training and also, about setting up a strict sleep routine for toddlers. Practicing sleep hygiene is essential both for kids and adults. Also, it is important to pay attention to your pre-bedtime habits at a senior age, when the need for sleep will start to decrease.
How to maintain sleep hygiene?
We’re all different, so it’s not possible to give a general guide that applies to everyone when talking about sleep hygiene. Rather, you should approach to forming habits and routines in a creative way, listening to your body and noticing, what will work the most.
However, there are some general recommendations and guidelines that will help to maintain sleep hygiene.
The first and one of the most important things is to get to know your personal circadian rhythm or internal clock. To have a good night’s sleep, you need to follow the day and night rhythm, make your bedroom comfortable for sleep, practice a strong routine before bedtime, and stick to healthy habits.
Sleep experts recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even at the weekends. Be consistent about this routine, because even though such a sleep schedule may seem difficult to follow and even unpleasant at first, within a few weeks the body should get used to it. This way, you will soon start to notice that falling asleep and waking up will become easier, day by day.
Ideally, you should start preparing for sleep already a few hours before bedtime. For example, you can make a rule in your house that at 7 PM all TVs, smartphones and mobile devices will be turned off.
Instead, try reading a book out loud to your children, or share your day with your friend. It’s also a good idea to take some time just for yourself a few hours before bed, for example, to meditate or write a journal.
These routines will help your body to wind down and to leave behind your daily worries.
Limiting large meals, caffeine and alcohol is also an important part of sleep hygiene, especially in the evening, at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Late-night high-calorie snacks, and drinking alcohol right before bedtime are bad habits that will have a negative effect on your sleep and also, on your waistline.
Not paying attention to your pre-sleep routines may leave you tossing and turning in bed and constantly looking at your watch at night. If you are wearing a smartwatch and find it disturbing, it’s better to place it on the bedside table for the night. If you want to track your sleep, there are other ways to monitor your sleep, such as smart rings.
What about your bedroom?
When talking about sleep hygiene, you should also check your bedroom, because the room where we regularly sleep has a big impact on our sleep quality. Sleep is strongly affected by the light and temperature in the bedroom. Daylight will give your body a signal that it’s time to be awake. Darkness has the opposite effect.
Daily exposure to daylight is crucial for your circadian rhythm and hormone functioning. However, excessive light in the bedroom is not good, especially in the summer when the sun rises early. The direct sunlight should be avoided and blocked also in the children’s room, because the morning light can wake the little ones up too early.
To block the light, use heavy curtains in front of the windows, that will also help to regulate the room temperature.
To help your brain to establish a clear connection between the bedroom, the bed and sleep, you should use your bed only for sleep, or sexual activity. This means that all tablets and TVs, that you have used for watching late-night movies from Netflix, should be removed from the bedroom.
Another thing is the products you use. For a better sleep you should consider allergy-free pillows and blankets that really take your sleep hygiene to the next level.
Some more tips to enjoy better sleep
A comfortable bed and fresh sheets are also essential parts of getting a good night’s sleep.
Today, there are many pillows, blankets, and bed sheets available in many different materials and shapes. Some of them are made from high-tech materials and fabrics that are specially designed to support your body during your deepest sleep.
For example, with blankets and pillows, it is important to ensure that the material does not induce allergies, stuffy nose, and breathing problems.
When it comes to pillowcases and duvet covers, satin bedding is considered to be the most sleep-friendly material, which will provide you a good night’s sleep even if your body sweats a little during the night. Unlike cotton, while sleeping with satin sheets, the body moisture does not stay on your skin, but is swept away from the body, so you do not feel any discomfort at night.
Satin is also good for the skin and hair, helping to prevent hair breakage.
When talking about sleep hygiene, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your well-being is in your hands. A strong sleep hygiene consists of conscious choices and activities we are performing before bed in order to sleep better and have a rest at night. It’s also important to check your bedroom, your bed and the condition of your blankets, pillows and sheets.
Remember, the better habits you are able to create and the better sleep equipment you are using, the better sleep you will get.