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11 Ways to Improve Sleep Hygiene

Mar 26, 2024
· 11 mins read

Are you constantly tired but can’t sleep?

Do you often wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty going back to bed?

If so, it's time to think about your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the practice of implementing habits that improve sleep quality and duration. This means falling asleep within about 30 minutes, staying asleep throughout the night, and being able to drift back asleep with ease.

If all of this sounds like a dream, keep reading to learn 11 ways to improve your sleep hygiene and ensure you wake up refreshed each morning.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene refers to the healthy habits you can adopt to improve your sleep quality, including conscious choices in your daily routine.

Sleep hygiene is not about following strict rules but rather about making choices that help you gain the required 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night for proper mind and body functioning.

sleep hygiene

Why is Sleep Hygiene Important?

Just like the human body needs oxygen, water, and a nutritious diet to function properly, the human body thrives on good sleep. Not getting enough quality sleep at night can lead to various problems, such as:

  • •Increased stress levels

  • •Fatigue

  • •Difficulty concentrating

  • •Mood swings.

Chronic sleep deprivation can have even more serious consequences, potentially increasing your risk of developing health problems like:

  • •High blood pressure

  • •Weakened immunity

  • •Diabetes

  • •Heart disease.

Sleep is critical for everyone, regardless of age. It helps avoid health complications, promotes daytime alertness, and establishes a positive sleep routine.

Following these 11 effective sleep habits can help prevent sleep disorders or other sleep-related issues.

11 Highly Effective Ways to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

1- Avoid Long Daytime Naps

While napping can be a great recharge, frequent or long daytime naps, particularly in the evening, can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Instead, opt for short "power naps" limited to the afternoon.

Here are some tips for power napping:

•Keep your naps short, around 20 minutes or less.

•Nap in the afternoon, between 1 pm and 3 pm.

•Create a dark and quiet environment for your nap.

•Avoid napping too late in the day, as this can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

2- Exercise Daily

Incorporating activities like regular exercise, meditation, and yoga into your daily life can significantly improve your sleep. These practices enhance sleep quality and improve physical and mental well-being.

Regular exercise

3- Sunlight Exposure

Sunlight exposure plays a key role in regulating your sleep cycle. “Finding lifestyle habits to prioritize early morning and daytime sun exposure can help to improve sleep later that night”. Even going outside for 30 minutes can make a difference.

4- Reduce your Caffeine and Sugar Intake

To promote better sleep, consider reducing caffeine and sugar intake, particularly in the afternoon and evening. Both caffeine and sugar act as stimulants, keeping your mind alert even when trying to wind down for bed.

Caffeine specifically disrupts sleep by blocking receptors for adenosine, a chemical in our brains that promotes sleepiness. This means that caffeine can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.

While individual tolerances vary, it's generally recommended to limit your caffeine intake to the morning hours. This means skipping coffee, tea, or sugary drinks like sodas later in the day. Additionally, avoiding sugary snacks and desserts at night can improve your sleep quality.

5- Follow a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Do you ever find yourself going to bed at random times throughout the week? While occasional late nights happen, a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for optimal sleep quality.

Try setting lights off reminders on your phone to help your internal clock develop a new routine.

Why is consistency so important?

Your body has an internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When you go to bed and wake up at irregular times, you disrupt this internal clock, making it difficult to fall asleep and feel refreshed.

The solution is simple: create a sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible, even on weekends! A regular sleep routine helps regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Over time, falling asleep will become effortless and automatic, not a nightly battle.

Remember, quality sleep is essential. Aim for 7-9 hours of peaceful sleep each night to feel your best and function optimally.

6- Develop a Relaxing Pre-Bedtime Routine

Your pre-bed routine plays a crucial role in promoting quality sleep. By establishing healthy habits the hour before bedtime, you can significantly improve your chances of falling asleep easily and enjoying a restful night's sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends winding down 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This "wind-down" period should involve activities that promote relaxation and signal to your body that it's time to prepare for sleep.

What are some good pre-bedtime practices?

  • •Ditch the devices: The blue light emitted from electronic devices like smartphones and tablets can suppress melatonin production, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle (Walker, 2017). Put away your screens and opt for more relaxing activities.
  • •Unwind with a book: Curl up with a calming book to gently stimulate your mind without the harsh blue light of electronic devices.

  • •Take a warm bath or shower: A warm bath can help lower your body temperature, mimicking the natural dip in temperature before sleep.

  • •Practice relaxation techniques. Techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can effectively calm your mind and body and prepare you for sleep.

  • •Listen to calming music: Soothing music can ease anxiety and promote relaxation.

  • •Remember, consistency is key! The more you stick to a relaxing pre-bed routine, the easier it will be to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

7- Create a Pleasant Bedroom Environment

Your bedroom environment plays a significant role in promoting quality sleep. A calming and comfortable space can signal to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep, leading to a more restful night.

According to a study by Northwestern University researchers, exposure to bright light at night can suppress melatonin production by up to 50%. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and its production naturally increases in the evening to promote sleepiness.

Here are some tips to create a sleep-conducive bedroom environment:

•Dim the lights:  Start dimming the lights in your room 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This helps signal melatonin production and create a more relaxing atmosphere.

•Embrace the cool:  Aim for a slightly cool bedroom temperature, ideally between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6-19.4 degrees Celsius). A cooler environment promotes deeper sleep for most people (Touchette et al., 2000).

•Minimize clutter:  A cluttered bedroom can feel overwhelming and contribute to stress. Keep your sleep space tidy and organized to promote feelings of calm and relaxation.

•Invest in comfort:  Invest in high-quality bedding, such as a comfortable mattress, pillows, and soft sheets. These will provide the physical support you need for a good night's sleep.

•Banish work-related stress:  Avoid using your bedroom for work activities. This can create a mental association between your bedroom and work stress, making it harder to unwind and fall asleep.

•Welcome the morning light:  Allowing natural light to enter your bedroom in the morning can help regulate your circadian rhythm, making it easier to wake up feeling refreshed.

8- Sweet and Comforting Fragrances for the Win!

Did you know certain fragrances can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality?

Lavender, a popular choice for relaxation, boasts calming properties.  Studies have shown that lavender essential oil can reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calmness (Lin et al., 2018). Its soothing aroma can gently ease you into a more restful state.

Rose essential oil offers similar benefits.  Research suggests it may help alleviate anxiety and insomnia (Hongratanaworakit et al., 2013). Consider incorporating these calming scents into your pre-bedtime routine.

Here are some ways to embrace the power of scent for sleep:

  • Diffuse essential oils   :  An essential oil diffuser can gently fill the air with a relaxing aroma. Lavender and rose are excellent choices.
  • •Light-scented candles: Choose candles made with natural essential oils for a soft, flickering light and a calming fragrance.

  •  •Spritz your linens:  Lightly mist your sheets and pillows with a diluted essential oil spray. (Always test on a small area first!)

  • •Draw a relaxing bath:  Add a few drops of lavender or rose essential oil to your bathwater for a truly immersive experience.

Remember, a little goes a long way with essential oils. Start with a small amount and adjust based on your preferences.

9- No Electronic Devices Before Bed

Using electronic devices before bed can significantly disrupt your sleep quality. Scrolling through social media, checking emails, or watching videos can stimulate your brain and make it harder to unwind.

But why are electronics so sleep-unfriendly? The culprit is blue light. Exposure to blue light in the evening can suppress melatonin production, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Without sufficient melatonin, falling asleep becomes a challenge.

Here's how to create a tech-free buffer zone before bedtime:

•Power down 30 minutes before sleep:  Put away your phone, tablet, and laptop at least 30 minutes before bedtime. This allows your brain time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

•Banish the bedroom phone:  Avoid keeping your phone next to your bed. Notifications and the temptation to check emails can disrupt your sleep throughout the night.

•Embrace the darkness:  If you absolutely must keep your phone nearby, use an app or eye mask to block out the blue light emitted from the screen.

10- Manage Stress Before Bed

Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on sleep quality. Whether it's work deadlines, financial worries, or relationship concerns, a racing mind can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This lack of sleep can, in turn, worsen stress levels, creating a vicious cycle.

How can you manage stress and worries before bed?

Here are some strategies:

  • •Empty your mind:  Journaling before bed can be a powerful tool. Writing down your worries and anxieties can help to clear your mind and reduce their hold on you.

  • •Practice relaxation techniques:  Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can effectively calm your mind and body, promoting feelings of peace and preparing you for sleep.

  • •Wind down with calming activities:  Listening to soothing music, taking a warm bath, or reading a book can gently ease you into a relaxed state.

  • •Seek professional help:  If your stress or anxiety is severe and interferes significantly with your sleep, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor. They can teach you coping mechanisms and develop personalized stress management strategies.

 Remember, prioritizing your mental well-being is crucial for a good night's sleep. 

11- Make Gradual Adjustments to Your Nightly Routine

Sometimes, life throws curveballs, and your sleep schedule needs to adjust. Adapting to a new sleep routine can be challenging, whether it's due to a new job, travel across time zones, or a change in childcare arrangements.

The key to success? Gradual change.  Our bodies thrive on consistency, and an abrupt shift in sleep schedule can disrupt your internal clock (circadian rhythm), making it difficult to fall asleep or wake up feeling refreshed (National Institutes of Health).

Here's how to make gentle adjustments to your sleep schedule:

  • •Start slow:  Aim for adjustments of no more than 15-30 minutes per night. This allows your body to adapt to the new sleep-wake cycle gradually.

  • •Maintain consistency:  Once you've chosen an adjustment time, stick to it as much as possible, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your circadian rhythm.

  • •Prioritize sleep hygiene:  Maintain your relaxing pre-bedtime routine, even if your bedtime shifts slightly. This will signal your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

  • •Track your progress:  Consider keeping a sleep diary to monitor your sleep patterns and identify any lingering sleep issues.

Are You Still Struggling with Sleep?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep, which can lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

The Sleeplay Home Sleep Test  is a simple, easy-to-use device that you can use in the comfort of your own home to diagnose sleep apnea. The test records your breathing, heart rate, and oxygen levels during sleep. The results are then sent to a board-certified sleep physician for diagnosis.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are several effective treatments available. Taking a home sleep test is the first step to getting the diagnosis and treatment you need to get the restful sleep you deserve. Visit Sleeplay Home Sleep Test  to get your test.

8 Tips for Night Shift Workers (Sleep Hygiene Bonus)

Working a night shift can be challenging for your sleep-wake cycle.  The body's natural circadian rhythm is programmed to sleep at night and be awake during the day. When you work nights, you're essentially going against your natural rhythm, which can lead to sleep deprivation, fatigue, and health problems.

Here are some tips for night shift workers to optimize sleep and well-being: 

1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule:

As much as possible, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on your days off. This helps to regulate your circadian rhythm and makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day.

2. Create a relaxing pre-bedtime routine

Establish a relaxing routine in the hour before bedtime to help you wind down and prepare for sleep. This may include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.

3. Minimize exposure to light at night

Bright light can suppress melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. When you're working nights, wear sunglasses or a sleep mask to block out light, and use blackout curtains in your bedroom.

4. Take naps during your shift:

Short naps (20-30 minutes) during your night shift can help to improve alertness and performance. Be sure to time your naps so that they don't interfere with your nighttime sleep.

5. Get regular exercise

Regular physical activity can help to improve sleep quality and reduce stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

6. Eat a healthy diet

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to improve your overall health and well-being, which can contribute to better sleep.

7. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed

Caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep and make it harder to fall asleep. Avoid these substances in the hours leading up to bedtime.

8. Seek professional help if needed

If you're struggling to cope with the demands of night shift work or are experiencing chronic sleep problems, consider seeking professional help from a sleep specialist.

By following these tips, night shift workers can improve their sleep quality and overall health.

The Takeaway

If you’re consistently feeling groggy throughout the day, consider taking a closer look at the factors that affect your sleep quality. Making simple changes in your daily routine and adopting new healthy habits can help you achieve better sleep. If you suspect sleep apnea may be the root cause of your poor sleep, get a home sleep test and receive accurate results after just one night.


Walker, M. (2017). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Simon & Schuster.

Touchette, R. L., Folk, C. L., & Wigington, R. S. (2000). Monitoring bedroom temperatures in the homes of elderly people. Journal of Housing for the Elderly, 14(1/2), 3-20.

Lin, C.-C., Wu, Y.-C., & Hsu, C.-Y. (2018). The effects of inhalation of lavender essential oil on anxiety and physiological changes in adults. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 5(4), 404-410.

Hongratanaworakit, T., Koopdech, K., & Ingkaninanurak, P. (2013). The effects of rose oil inhalation on sleep quality of primary insomnia patients. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 96 (Suppl 4), S146-S152.

National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Circadian rhythms sleep disorders.

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