Whether you’re able to ease into a deep slumber at 9 pm sharp every night or you endure hours of staring at your ceiling, understanding sleep hygiene may provide you with the missing puzzle piece to solve your nighttime woes. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of sleep hygiene, including some useful tips you can incorporate for your nighttime wellness.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene consists of the habits, behaviors, and routines you practice every night before you go to bed. Examples of good sleep hygiene include going to bed at the same time every night and creating a bedroom that’s conducive to snoozing. On the other hand, examples of poor sleep hygiene include pulling all-nighters or drinking alcohol or caffeine right before you hit the hay.
Why is Sleep Important?
Good sleep habits are essential for a healthy lifestyle. After all, you spend nearly a third of your life asleep, so that time catching Zzz’s better be of high quality. Sleep is important for a variety of reasons, including:
- Healthy brain function: Sleep improves learning, forms new pathways in your brain, and assists in memory formation.
- Healthy emotional well-being: A night of shut-eye helps you control your emotions and cope with change, while sleep deprivation can lead to depression and anxiety.
- Increased safety and performance throughout the day: A good night’s sleep prepares you for the next day by increasing your productivity, reaction time, and attention.
- Improved physical health: When you sleep, your brain produces chemicals to help your body repair itself, which can lower your risk for obesity and repair your body’s heart, muscles, and blood vessels.
6 Tips for Sleep Hygiene
Now that you know understand a little bit about sleep hygiene and why sleep is important for your well-being, it’s time to learn how to incorporate those good habits into your own life. Below, we’ll go over 6 tips for sleep hygiene that will help you sleep better and live better.
1. Create a schedule
The first tip for practicing good sleep hygiene is creating a sleep schedule you stick to. To create your sleep schedule, you first need to determine how much sleep you need. The amount of sleep you require depends on a few factors but the main one is your age. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers these recommendations:
- Newborns (0-3 Months): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-12 Months): 12-16 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 Years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 Years): 10-13 hours
- School-Aged Children (6-12 Years): 9-12 hours
- Teenagers (13-18 Years): 8-10 hours
- Adults (18-64 Years): 7 or more hours
- Seniors (65+ Years): 7-8 hours
Once you establish the amount of sleep you need, you can create a schedule that allows you to get the recommended amount for your age group and lifestyle.
For example, if you’re an adult who works a 9-to-5 with a 30-minute commute, you’ll probably need to wake up around 7:30 to 8:00 am for adequate time to eat breakfast and get ready for the day. This means a bedtime at around 11:30 pm is ideal to get your full 7 hours of sleep. Maybe you have children who need to reach their bus by 6:45 am for middle school. If so, they should be in bed and asleep between 8:00 and 9:00 pm to get 9 hours of sleep.
Your sleep schedule should also consist of a regular routine to train your brain psychologically that it’s time for bed. Before turning out the light for the night, establish a relaxing routine. Turn off your phone and TV, read a book, take a bath, or meditate for 30 minutes to 1 hour before you sleep.
2. Take naps early
Work can be draining, and sometimes plopping into your bed after a long 8-hour shift is all you want to do. But beware, taking naps later in the day, especially close to bedtime, can disrupt your sleep. Naps are good for you when done properly. A short 20-30 minute nap can help increase alertness and performance, while anything longer may put you into a deeper sleep cycle that can cause grogginess upon waking up. If you have time during the day, the best time to nap is anywhere between 1:00 and 3:00 pm.
3. Stay hydrated
The average adult human’s body is composed of 60% percent water. This means you need to stay adequately hydrated throughout the day in order to function properly, day and night. Drinking regularly throughout the day will help you stay energized and awake, and will also keep your joints and muscles happy, too. It’s also essential to drink water before bed, but not too much where you end up waking up in the middle of the night for a trip to the bathroom.
4. Exercise at the right time
Exercise is not only crucial for keeping your body physically fit, but it’s also important for sleeping soundly throughout the night. As you may know, exercising tires you out, and being active throughout the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. That said, you shouldn’t exercise too late in the day.
When you exercise, your brain produces a stress hormone called cortisol, which increases your alertness. If you exercise before bed, your body may still be alert and awake, making it difficult to fall asleep. Try exercising early in the day and no later than 3 hours before bedtime.
5. Avoid coffee, nicotine, and alcohol
A nice glass of wine with dinner or a warm cup of coffee with dessert may sound like a great idea at the moment, but these habits can be the cause for your tossing and turning during the night. Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, as well as depressants like alcohol, may help you sleep initially, but can disrupt your sleep cycles later on in the night, preventing you from getting that much-needed REM sleep.
6. Create a relaxing bedroom
That creaky mattress that makes a noise every time you change your sleeping position or that alarm clock with the bright lights may be another reason you lie awake at night. Turning your bedroom into a sleep-inducing environment can drastically change how you sleep at night. Some tips for creating a healthy sleep environment include:
- Setting the right temperature: The best sleeping temperature is between 60° F and 67° F. If you have heating and air conditioning, adjusting your bedroom temperature should be easy. However, if you live in a hot and humid climate with no AC, you may need to invest in bamboo sheets or a cooling mattress.
- Getting the right mattress: Your mattress will make or break how you sleep at night. Whether you prefer a firm or a soft surface to sleep on, our copper mattress at Layla suits any sleeper perfectly.
- Adjusting the lighting: Our body’s sleep-wake cycle is closely connected to our circadian rhythms. This means you need to expose yourself to enough sunlight every day to keep your body alert, and enough darkness every night to promote sleep. To ensure you get enough sleep, you need to be in a dark room. This can be achieved by purchasing blackout shades, reducing screen time before bed, and wearing an eye mask.
Sleep Hygiene for Kids
Sleep hygiene for kids is just as important as sleep hygiene for adults. Both school-aged children and teenagers are still rapidly growing and developing, both physically and cognitively. This is why the CDC recommends they sleep much longer than adults.
If your little ones are staying up late at night and not receiving their recommended amount of sleep, keep this sleep hygiene checklist handy:
- Create a sleep routine that can be followed every night
- Make sure any devices are put away at least an hour before bedtime
- Encourage your children to establish their own relaxing bedtime routine that naturally makes them sleepy
Key Takeaways: Better Sleep, Better Life
Life is full of distractions that can make it difficult to prioritize sleep. However, once you establish and practice good sleep hygiene, you might be surprised how big of a difference it makes in your day-to-day life. Adequate rest allows your brain to function better, helps modulate your emotions, and gives you more energy to fully embrace the day.