Are you practicing good sleep hygiene? Establishing a good sleep routine can improve the consistency and quality of your sleep. Learn about bad habits you should ditch, and what to do instead.
It’s a horrible feeling: Following a long day fighting sleep, you crawl into bed completely exhausted, only to find yourself staring at the ceiling wide awake. Could it have been that afternoon cup of coffee? That late night fast food? Stress?
While it’s not uncommon to experience an occasional night of poor sleep, a consistent lack of sleeplessness may indicate inadequate sleep hygiene, a form of insomnia caused by bad sleeping habits. The good news is this type of insomnia can be easily reversed with a few improvements to your sleep routine.
Many people are unaware of their poor sleeping habits, such as drinking too many caffeinated drinks during the day or endlessly scrolling on your smartphone just before bedtime. You may be struggling with poor sleep hygiene if you:
- Have a difficult time falling asleep
- Wake up frequently during the night
- Take excessive naps during the daytime
- Never feel fully rested or refreshed
By understanding where your sleep habits fall short, you can start making minor adjustments to retrain your brain and get back on the path to deeper, uninterrupted, quality sleep.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene can be simply defined as good sleep habits. It includes the behavioral and environmental practices that help create the ideal conditions for consistent, healthy sleep. These practices can help to promote stress reduction and relaxation, as well as send signals to your brain to begin the sleep-wake cycle.
Over the years, health experts have considered sleep hygiene to be an important part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for people struggling with insomnia. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, CBT for insomnia is geared to help people address the thoughts and behaviors, such as excessive worrying, that prevent them from sleeping their best.
If you find yourself struggling to wake up in the morning or crashing by mid-afternoon, it may be time to examine your habits during the day — especially as you head into bedtime.When you fail to get a good night’s rest, it can lead to a host of negative consequences for your physical and mental health. Besides putting you in a poor mood, a lack of sleep prevents your body from properly recharging, leading to decreased work productivity, increased rates of anxiety, and increased risks for serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and more.
In addition to diet and exercise, sleep is absolutely essential for a happy, healthy life. Having a set sleep ritual will help ensure you get the rest you need.
You don’t have to give in to the pitfalls of sleep deprivation. You deserve to sleep throughout the night and wake up feeling refreshed. So, how do you improve your sleeping habits? We’ve collected our top tips to improve sleep hygiene below.
Start getting better rest with these sleep hygiene tips
#1: Establish a sleep schedule — and stick to it
Sleep experts recommend that adults aim for between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Of course, we all experience some days of shortened sleep. Whatever you do, don’t try to make up for it. Sleep debt can’t be fixed by sleeping in on the weekend, or get better by taking daily naps to fill in the gaps. Instead, get in the habit of prioritizing sleep and setting a fixed sleep and wake-up time that works best for your schedule. Soon, you’ll be ready to hit the hay at the same time, every day.
#2: Cultivate healthy daytime habits
As you approach bedtime, you should avoid eating heavy or spicy meals, or drinking too many fluids. In addition to risking heartburn, having a full belly or bladder interrupts your sleep patterns. Many people find they sleep deeper and longer following exercise. However, it’s important that you workout at least 90 minutes before bedtime — otherwise, you may find yourself wired — and needing a nap the next day. If you do need to take a nap during the day, take one early in the afternoon and limit your nap duration to about 20 minutes. Anything longer than that could make you feel groggy or overtired.
#3: Limit your intake of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
While there are some benefits to having a glass of wine at night, you should never rely on a nightcap to help you sleep. You’ll also want to avoid bingeing on alcohol, which has proven to disrupt the sleep cycle, disturb sleep quality, and lead to bouts of insomnia, and smoking cigarettes, which among many other health reasons, contains a stimulant. Similarly, having too many cups of caffeine during the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
#4: Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary
Your sleep environment should be optimized for tranquil sleep. In addition to investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows, your bedroom should be free of excessive noise, a comfortable temperature, and block out bright lights to promote sleepiness. For some people, keeping this space free of clutter and noisy distractions, such as a television, can clear the way for sleep. Placing candles or calming scents throughout the room may also help.
#5: Develop a nightly routine
To help your body align with your desired sleep-wake times, it’s important to establish a nighttime routine. This may include setting a time to put your phone away (which contains blue light that interferes with sleep signals, not to mention stimulating the brain with endless newsfeeds), taking a warm bath, meditating or reading for an hour before bed. You may also want to dim the lights and settle into bed. This is also the most effective time to take any daily sleep supplements you may use to help promote deep, restorative sleep.
Taking a closer look at your sleep hygiene is the first step to achieving better sleep. At RealSleep, it is our goal to help people overcome sleep deprivation and get the real rest they deserve. If you’re struggling with poor sleep, our sleep resources and customized, all-natural sleep supplements can help you rediscover what it means to get blissful sleep tonight, so you can wake up feeling refreshed tomorrow.