What is sleep hygiene? Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe your sleeping habits. Sleep is necessary for everyone; it affects your mental and physical health. Sleep is also necessary for energetic and motivated days, as well as muscle growth and tissue maintenance. The fact that our brain’s health is affected by our quality of sleep is of paramount importance and that is where your sleep hygiene comes in.
If you’re experiencing bad sleep or have neglected your sleep hygiene then it’s quite possible that your natural ‘sleeping rhythm”, or circadian rhythm is out. Your circadian rhythm is dependent on natural triggers – light and darkness – leading to melatonin build up, causing you to feel sleepy. Melatonin, a hormone released by the body to regulate the sleep/wake cycle, is essential to good sleep hygiene. It can be prescribed for insomnia to help improve sleep. Plant-based products, which mimic the natural production of melatonin (such as valerian, magnesium, lavender oil, passionflower extracts, tryptophan and chamomile, and CBD oil) can also be good sleep aids for those times when you’re struggling to sleep.
But what else can you do to help improve your sleep hygiene? Here are a few tips for better sleep:
1. Examine your daily routine
Examine your daily routine to see if anything could be causing you to have interrupted or disturbed sleep. Is your daily routine stressful, are you making time to exercise, what are you eating and when, do you watch TV or work on your laptop in bed? All the above can adversely impact your sleeping routine.
Try not to work in your bedroom. Your bed is not an alternative work-station. It is for rest and relaxation. Separating your work and rest space is crucial to a good night’s rest.
2. Examine your bedroom
Examining your bedroom is another key way to ensure you get a good night’s rest. Is the room cool enough (between 16-18⁰C), dark enough, is your mattress comfortable, pillow comfortable, blankets cotton or a natural sleep-enhancing fibre? Something like Linen Drawer’s 400 Thread Count, 100% Cotton bedding will help to regulate your temperature throughout the night and keep you cool. Physical comfort is a huge requirement for sleeping soundly and enjoying consistently good sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is airy, cool, dark and comfortable and ensure your bed and bedding is comfortable and supports your body adequately.
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3. Examine your bedtime routine
Consider also examining your bedtime routine. Is your mind calm at bedtime, are you sleepy? You need to be in a calm state of mind when heading to bed. If you’re stressed out at bedtime, consider meditating or listen to calming music before bed. If you don’t have a routine -establish one, it can definitely help you sleep. If you’re really struggling with your sleep, consider keeping a sleep diary. This will help reveal how and what impacts your sleeping quality.
An easy way to help improve your sleep is to have a consistent sleep time – even over weekends. Budget time for sleep. This enables your body to establish and maintain its circadian rhythm. Spend the last hour of the day without television, computers, cell phones or any blue light-emitting devices. Blue light has an adverse effect on melatonin production and leads to fractured sleep. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bedtime, as they all impact very negatively on sleep quality.
4. Examine your nap times
Next, examine your nap times. Do you nap, for how long, and when? All these can impact your sleeping quality. Avoid naps close to bedtime, or any time after 5pm to ensure you’re tired before you to bed later that night.
5. Do you need medical help?
If your sleep still isn’t improving, assess whether you need medical help. Do you have sleep disorders like apnea, restless legs, or narcolepsy?