One of the most straightforward ways to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep is to start paying attention to your sleep hygiene. This means you have to start observing both daily routines and a bedroom environment that corresponds to that.
If you want to get your peace and quiet, you have to keep a strict sleep schedule. But that’s not all. You need to create a space, which is comfortable and free of disruptions so you can get the uninterrupted sleep you want.
In today’s article, we’ll try to help you follow a relaxing pre-bed routine and build healthy habits for a good night’s sleep. With that said, don’t be afraid to tailor your practices to suit your individual needs.
What you have to take from this guide is the way to harness positive habits in order to sleep soundly during the night and wake up ready to take on the day!
Why is Sleep Hygiene Important?
We all need sleep to live. Rest is vital for both physical and mental health, which is why we have to obtain a healthy sleep routine to improve our productivity and overall quality of life.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine takes a closer look at creating sustainable and beneficial routines that have an ongoing positive reinforcement process.
The good news is that most people will take on a habit if it serves their long-term interests and building the ideal sleeping environment is one of them. We found a study that talks about “The role of sleep hygiene” and how it can pave the way for higher-quality sleep, even better overall health.
Good Sleep Hygiene Checklist
This is a question that can have many different answers depending on an individual and their needs. However, they all have one thing in common, and that’s the need for quality sleep every night. For you to do so, you have to put yourself in the best position to sleep well.
You can start by optimizing your sleep schedule and pre-bed routine to create a pleasant bedroom environment that allows you to relax and doze off. Even though you can change it up, there are a handful of tips we recommend you start with.
Later on, when you start adapting, you can always create your own sleep hygiene checklist that works best for you. But for now here are the tips we’re talking about:
1. Set a Sleep Schedule
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, having a set sleep schedule is crucial for your brain and body to get accustomed. There are three simple steps you can follow:
Have a fixed wake-up time
When we say that we mean it for every day of the week, weekends included. Regardless of the day, you have to try and wake up at the same time because with inconsistent waking times, you won’t be able to get into a rhythm of consistent sleep.
Many compromise on sleep in order to work, study, socialize, or exercise, but no matter how tempting it sounds, you shouldn’t skip sleeping. Rest is a priority, and you have to remember that! Try to calculate a target bedtime based on your fixed wake-up time to get rest each night.
When you decide to make adjustments, we don’t recommend doing them all at once. The reason for that is you can throw your schedule out of whack. What you can do instead is make them step-by-step until you are fully settled into a new schedule.
2. Follow a Night Routine
This is what makes or breaks the quality of your sleep. The way you get ready for bed determines how easily it will be able to fall asleep. Here are some tips that can make it easier:
Being consistent with your routine will have a very positive impact. Even stuff like putting on your pyjamas and brushing your teeth can remind your brain and body its time to go to bed. So follow your schedule step by step.
Wind down before bed
It’s important to start winding down at least 30 minutes before going to bed. You should take advantage of whatever puts you in a calm state of mind. Maybe some soft music is the answer or reading a book? If not, you can do some light stretching or relaxation exercises.
Dim your lights
When it’s time for bed, you should keep away from bright lights. The reason for that is they can hinder the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that facilitates sleep.
Don’t use electronics before bed
Even though it can be quite tempting to scroll through social media on your tablet before you go to sleep, you need to try and build a 30 to 60 minutes pre-bed buffer time. Electronic devices such as smartphones or laptops in bed generate blue light, which decreases melatonin production and causes mental stimulation.
Try to relax
Sometimes all you have to do is just try to relax. Yes, it sounds easier than it is, but try some meditation or mindfulness so that you can put your body into the right mindset for bed.
Stretch if you need to
There is a vast difference between being in bed and being asleep. Therefore, if you’ve been tossing and turning for some time, get up and stretch. Or do something else that might calm you down before trying to go back to bed.
3. Develop Healthy Daily Habits
Let’s be honest, you need to have healthier daily habits in general to get a good sleep. Your night routine isn’t the only thing that plays a role here. By incorporating positive patterns during the day, you can support your circadian rhythm and limit sleep disruptions. Here’re our suggestions:
Bright light and sunlight are some of the most critical drivers of the circadian rhythm. By getting at least 2 hours of daylight exposure, you encourage quality sleep.
Physical activities come with many health benefits. However, they also make it easier to sleep at night, which is why exercising 30 minutes a day can have an incredibly positive impact.
In general, smoking and nicotine stimulate the body in a way that can disrupt your sleep, thus why cigarettes are correlated with numerous sleeping problems.
Many people think that consuming alcohol helps them fall asleep, which can sometimes be accurate, but they don’t know that the effect wears off. Alcohol disrupts your sleep, and as a result, you aren’t well-rested in the morning. Therefore, you should try to avoid it at least at night.
Cut down on caffeine
We drink coffee to keep us awake. Therefore we shouldn’t drink it in the afternoon or at night because it’s a stimulant. Consuming lots of caffeine hours before bed can create a sleepless and restless cycle.
Having late dinners or eating heavy meals at night can disrupt your sleep. If you eat late, your body won’t have enough time to digest, making it hard for you to fall asleep.
4. Optimise your Bedroom
Having a good sleep routine isn’t the only important factor. For you to be able to fall asleep quickly, you need to be in a calming sleep environment. That’s why you want your bedroom to emanate tranquillity. You also need to think about the items that can provide comfort and relaxation, such as:
Mattress & Pillow
Comfort comes with sleep, and if your pillow and mattress don’t provide you with it, the tossing and turning can make your night’s rest unpleasant. Think about your sleeping position and personal preferences and make this decision wisely. There are many brands and models available on the market and all claim to be the bee’s knees. We’ve created several guides about choosing the best mattress for your needs which will hopefully make the choice easier for you. You can see all our mattress guides here.
After picking the right mattress and pillow, you have to think about your bedding. The first things you touch when you get into bed are your sheets and blanket. Therefore, make sure they match your needs and preferences.
Temperature control is an essential factor for a comfortable night’s sleep. Make sure to fine-tune your bedroom temperature to suit your preferences, while keeping in mind that people sleep better in cooler spaces.
According to many doctors and sleep experts, the ideal room temperature should be around 16-18 degrees so try if that setting would help your bedtime routine.
You don’t want your sleep to be interrupted from the outside, which is why you have to buy heavy curtains that can block the incoming light.
Noise plays a considerable part in your sleep cycle, especially if you’re a light sleeper. Your best option to block it is by either getting a pair of earplugs or trying a white noise machine that will drown out annoying sounds and improve your sleep quality.
Aromatherapy and breathing light smells can induce a calmer state of mind. For example, lavender scents will relax your mind and body, helping cultivate a positive space for sleep.
How do I know if I have good habits?
The easiest way to know if you have good sleep habits is to get the recommended amount of sleep every night. Of course, you can miss one or two nights here and there, but if you aren’t getting enough sleep regularly, your sleep quality is poor or you might have a sleep disorder.
If you’re frequently tossing and turning for long periods, you should take a closer look at your sleep habits. More specifically, several signs indicate you may need to improve, such as:
- Late bedtimes and early risings
- Lying awake for 30 minutes or more
- Waking up often during the night
- Being unable to fall back asleep for 30 minutes or more
What are the signs of Poor Sleep Hygiene?
By answering the previous question, we indicated what poor sleep hygiene means. But let’s explain it more thoroughly.
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, you keep waking up throughout the night and suffer from daytime sleepiness, you have some of the most telling signs of early stages of sleep deprivation. Another factor can be the overall lack of consistency in sleep quantity or quality.
We spend a third of our lives asleep, which is why having good habits is essential for the quality and longevity of our sleep cycle. The basic concept of sleep hygiene applies to pretty much everyone, but changes can be applied to the ideal option based on different individuals.
That’s why it’s worth testing out different adjustments so that you can find what works best for you and your personal needs. However, don’t change everything at once; do it step by step and achieve your goal slowly but surely.
Please keep in mind that we are non-professionals in the medical field, and these are only recommendations. If any questions regarding the subject were left unanswered, please ask them in the comments below.