Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you are exhausted but can't sleep? Or maybe you usually wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty going back to bed? Do you spend hours tossing and turning at night while trying to fall asleep?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then maybe it's time for you to pay close attention to your sleep hygiene!
Having a good night's rest is essential for the proper functioning of your mind and body. Poor sleep hygiene can prevent you from having a peaceful and quality slumber at night by messing with your circadian rhythm. In addition, inadequate sleep can often open the door to various other mental and physical health issues. Plainly put, experiencing sleepiness all the time is not good!
According to medical advice, adults need to have at least 7-9 hours of quality slumber every night. And having good sleep hygiene is necessary to make it happen! Robust sleep hygiene is essential to have a consistent and uninterrupted sleep at night. It also inculcates healthy habits in you that enhance the quality of your everyday life.
And that's why we have created this article for you! Today we will walk you through twelve highly effective ways by which you can harness healthy sleep habits and improve your sleep hygiene. So read these sleep hygiene tips till the end to ensure you wake up fresh and well-rested every morning!
What is Sleep Hygiene and Why is it Important?
Sleep hygiene basically refers to healthy sleeping habits. It encompasses some behavioral and environmental practices that help alleviate mild to moderate insomnia, sleep deprivation, and sleep disorders.
The human body needs good sleep as much as it needs oxygen, water, and a nutritious diet to function at its best. Insufficient slumber at night can often cause sleep problems like increased stress levels, tiredness, low productivity, severe mood swings, etc.
And if the issue of sleep deprivation persists, it can even lead to more severe health complications like high blood pressure, weakened immunity, increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, etc. And to avoid all these health complications and boost the quality of your sleep, having good sleep hygiene is extremely necessary.
12 Highly Effective Ways to Improve your Sleep Hygiene
Various factors affect the quality of your sleep at night. For example, your daytime habits, diets, daily screen-time, working schedule, evening routine, etc., affect your ability to sleep. So if you feel sleep deprived and exhausted during the day, there is certainly some problem in your daily routine.
And by making some changes in your behavior, habits, and environment, you can easily improve the quality of your nighttime slumber. Strong sleep hygiene practices can help you get hours of sleep, thereby improving your overall mental and physical health.
A good night's sleep can do wonders for your overall health. It makes you feel enthusiastic, productive and relaxed the whole day. So you remain energized at work and have a happy mood when you get back home to your loved ones. That's something everybody wants, right?
So, let's look at the twelve ways that will help enhance your sleep hygiene!
1. Follow a consistent sleep schedule
Do you have a fixed time of going to bed at night, or do you go to sleep when you feel like it? If your answer is the latter, then you might want to change that!
Not having a fixed nighttime routine is not good for your body's sleep cycle. When you sleep according to your moods and follow no routine, you disturb your internal clock. This, in turn, makes it even harder for you to nod off and wake up the next day on time. So try to go to bed and wake up at a fixed time regularly. Yes, even on weekends!
Make a sleep schedule and try to stick with it as much as possible. Following a routine will optimize your body's sleep cycle and will make falling asleep feel almost effortless and automatic rather than a difficult endeavor. Also, ensure that your bedtime schedule allows you to get at least 7-9 hours of peaceful sleep every single night.
2. Develop a relaxing pre-bedtime routine
Your pre-bedtime routine also plays a huge role in determining the quality of your nighttime slumber. So you must follow a healthy pre-bedtime routine to have a relaxed and uninterrupted sleep at night.
You can start your pre-bedtime rituals anytime 30 to 60 minutes before you actually go to bed. And it can include all the habits that make your mind and body feel relaxed, except using your smartphone or tablet. That's a strict no-no before falling asleep!
You can read a book, take a warm and soothing shower, and try relaxation exercises to calm your mind and body. You can also do simple breathing exercises and listen to some calming music. Just ensure to avoid blue light-emitting devices and anything stressful or too overwhelming!
3. Create a pleasant bedroom environment
Your bedroom also affects your sleep. Therefore, you should always try to create a soothing and happy sleep environment to have a better nighttime rest. Our surroundings have a significant effect on our mood.
Pleasant surroundings instantly relax our mood and make us feel more comfortable. Therefore, creating a delightful bedroom environment with both a comfortable mattress at a comfortable temperature will make it easier for you to doze off.
There are various ways by which you can create a calming bedroom atmosphere. Let's look at some of them:
- Dimming the lights of your room 20 to 30 minutes before you go to bed can be very helpful. This is because bright lights make it difficult for your body to produce melatonin– a hormone your body generates to stimulate sleep.
- You can also play some light and soothing music and keep an ideal bedroom temperature. Neither too hot nor too cold.
- Keep yourself free from all kinds of clutter and trash. Also, invest in soft and comfortable bed sheets, pillows, and mattresses.
- Do not take your office work to your bedroom. It's not a place where you work; your bedroom is a place where you sleep, unwind, and relax. Worrying about your presentations, meetings, and Excel sheets isn't going to help you have a good night's sleep!
- Your body also needs to know when its time to wake up so try to have your blinds or curtains open a little bit to let some natural light in and let your body know it's time to wake up.
4. Sweet and comforting fragrances for the win!
Various scents are proven to relieve tension and make you feel relaxed. For example, lavender is enriched with an abundance of calming and sleep-inducing properties. It helps to reduce your stress levels and anxiety. The fragrance of lavender also makes you feel more drowsy.
Similarly, rose essential oils and diluted rose water are highly beneficial for reducing anxiety and making you feel at ease. In addition, rose-scented essential oils can help to reduce your insomnia and improve your sleep. It may be a good idea to take a warm bath and include some of these fragrances in your bathwater.
Using such fragrances in the form of essential oils, soaps, perfumes, etc., can help you sleep better at night. You can also light lavender or rose-scented candles during your pre-bedtime routine. Their aroma will enhance your mood and help you get the quality rest your body deserves.
5. Avoid long daytime naps
If you take long or frequent naps during the day, you'd naturally find it difficult to fall asleep at night. While napping is definitely a great way to regain your energy during the daytime, they usually throw off your slumber at night.
So, try to avoid frequent or long naps in the day, especially in the evenings.
Instead, try to take power naps and limit them to the afternoon only.
6. Say NO to electronic devices before going to bed!
Do you have a habit of using your phone, tablet, or laptop before going to bed? Do you browse social media or watch videos before falling asleep? If yes, then this might be one of the causes why you're unable to get restful sleep.
Using your smartphone and browsing social media before sleeping distracts you. Reading negative news can overwhelm you and makes it difficult for you to shut off your mind and unwind. Moreover, electronic devices emit blue light, which hampers melatonin production, making it even more difficult to fall asleep.
So it's best to keep your electronic devices aside thirty minutes before you fall asleep. Also, ensure you keep your phone away from your bed so that the buzz of notifications doesn't bother you. If you cannot put your phone away from you, try using an eye mask to block out any light.
7. Reduce your caffeine and sugar intake
Try to cut down on caffeine and sugar during the afternoon and evening for better sleep at night. As caffeine and sugar are stimulants, it keeps your mind alert even when you try to go to bed.
Although different people have different tolerance levels to caffeine and sugar, it's best to limit your coffees to the morning hours only. And as much as possible, avoid drinking coffee or eating sugar during nighttime. Lower caffeine intake would definitely help you fall asleep easily. It is also good to avoid large meals in order to get enough sleep.
8. Exercise daily and sunlight exposure
Your bedtime habits are not the only factors that affect the quality of your nightly rest. In fact, your daily routine and habits play a huge part in ensuring you get an ample amount of sleep.
Relaxing activities like regular exercise, meditation, and yoga can help to improve your sleep quality. Daily workouts and yoga sessions are also a great way to improve your overall physical and mental health.
As much as possible, try to do your exercises outside in the presence of fresh air and sunlight. Daily sunlight exposure enhances the benefits of physical workouts and also encourages better sleep at night for a better quality of life.
9. Manage your stress and worries before going to bed
Stress, anxiety, worries, and overthinking usually keep you awake during the night. Stressing about different things not only makes it difficult for you to fall asleep but can also cause sudden awakenings at night and ruin your quality of sleep.
Overthinking about certain circumstances also hampers the quality of your nighttime rest. This, in turn, makes you more stressed and irritated the following day. So it's necessary to manage your anxiety and worries before you go to bed. There are various activities that you can do to manage your stress levels effectively.
Try writing about all the problems that are bothering you before you hit the pillows. This will help you to get the negative and troubling thoughts out of your head. You can also meditate or listen to some soothing music to calm your mind.
However, if you think your stress levels are unmanageable or you usually experience severe anxiety, we highly recommend you pay a visit to your doctor.
10. Make gradual adjustments to your nightly routine
If, for some reason, you have to make changes in your bedtime routine, ensure that you adapt to these transitions gradually and not all at once. When your mind and body get accustomed to a particular nightly routine, changing it abruptly can spoil your whole sleeping schedule. It will make it difficult for you to fall asleep or wake up on time.
So the best practice is to make slow adjustments of up to an hour or so. This will give your mind and body time to get accustomed and easily settle into a new routine. It may be good to start a sleep diary so you can track your sleep hygiene routine.
Also, when you shift your sleep time, make sure you don't do it at the cost of your other pre-bedtime activities. Instead, adjust your nighttime routine in such a way that you get ample time to follow everything you were previously doing.
Sleep hygiene is all about adopting healthy habits in your everyday life to get better sleep at night. Your environment and habits play a significant role in determining the quality of your nightly slumber. And these habits and environments can be optimized and tailored to help you get a peaceful and satisfying sleep at night.
While practicing good sleep hygiene can be highly beneficial to everyone, there is no ideal way to do that. Every person is unique, and therefore, ideal sleep hygiene can be different for different individuals. Pick up different healthy activities, try them out and see what works best for you. When you discover something that helps you get a good night's rest, try to stick with it.
However, even after following all that, if you continue to have trouble falling asleep, it is best to talk with your doctor as soon as possible. They will help you determine any underlying condition that you may be suffering from and suggest the best course of treatment for you.
Always remember, getting a peaceful sleep at night is possible for almost everyone. All you need is the proper treatment and implement good sleep hygiene practices in your life.