And I’m not talking about how often you change your sheets.
What is sleep hygiene?
The term ‘sleep hygiene’ refers to the behaviours and habits that we create which contribute to our quality of sleep. Typically, there is ‘poor’ and ‘good’ sleep hygiene. Examples of ‘poor’ sleep hygiene are; irregular sleeping habits such as sleeping in at the weekend.
Why is sleep hygiene important?
Sleep hygiene is important because it affects the quality and amount of sleep you get each night. Good quality sleep contributes to the prevention of medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Ways to improve and support sleep hygiene
Establish an Enjoyable Pre-Sleep Routine
Creating a night time routine which prepares you for sleep can be not just a relaxing process, but enjoyable too. Playing relaxing music and doing some gentle yoga is a fantastic way to get both your mind and body ready to sleep.
Aim to keep your bedroom a ‘screen-free’ environment. This means no TV, tablets or phones. To unwind in bed, instead turn to reading magazines or books instead of screens.
Exercise is an important pillar of wellbeing. Aim for 30 minutes every day. Regarding sleep hygiene and exercise, the important thing to consider is when you exercise. This is because when you exercise, cortisol is released which is stimulating. Aim to complete exercising three hours or more before you go to bed.
Avoid Stress Before Bed
In modern lives, stress is often an unavoidable part of life. However, try to limit stressful activities, such as work and studying leading up to bedtime, this is because when the body is stressed, cortisol is released. Instead, focus on your pre-sleep routine activities such as reading or yoga.
Avoid Eating, Drinking or Smoking Stimulates Before Bed
Caffeine containing foods and drinks (black and green tea, coffee, cocoa) and alcohol are stimulating and can disrupt your sleep cycle. Aim to limit them four hours before bedtime. Nicotine is also stimulating so avoid smoking one hour or more before bedtime.
Keep a Sleep Diary
Tracking your sleep is a helpful way to gain understanding of your current sleep patterns, and how your current habits impact your sleep.