How to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is such a natural thing. We all do it. We all need it. Indeed, we depend on it to live a good functioning healthy life. The quality of the sleep we get determines the quality of every aspect of our lives.  We need adequate sleep in order to work, learn, focus, concentrate, recover, grow and stay healthy.

However, for some of us getting good sleep does not come easily. For many varied reasons the amount and quality of the sleep we get is not sufficient to allow us to fully function.  Our sleep may be interrupted for a night or two, or for longer periods.

Learning what we need to allow us to get adequate sleep will help up improve the quality of our sleep – and, therefore, our overall health.

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Establishing good sleep hygiene can improve the quality of your sleep. It can take time to establish a new sleep habit.  There may be setbacks along the way.

Here are some tips to improve the quality of your sleep at night:

Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes better sleep quality.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Develop a relaxing routine that helps you wind down and relax before bed. This signals to your body that it’s time to wind down. This could include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, practicing meditation or deep breathing exercises, or listening to calming music.

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Ensure a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Make your bedroom a sleep-friendly space. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows, and bedding that suit your preferences. Ensure that your bedroom is well-ventilated, at a temperature that suits your comfort, and free from any potential allergens or irritants. Use comfortable bedding and sleepwear that promote better sleep. Consider using earplugs, eye shades, or white noise machines if needed.

Block Out Light

Excess light exposure can throw off your sleep and your circadian rhythm. Blackout curtains over your windows or a sleep mask over your eyes can block light and prevent it from interfering with your rest. Avoiding bright light can help you transition to bedtime and contribute to your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

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Set the Thermostat to 65 to 68 Degrees Fahrenheit

You do not want the temperature of your bedroom to be a distraction by feeling too hot or too cold. The ideal temperature can vary based on the individual, but most research supports sleeping in a cooler room that is around 65 to 68 degrees.

Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow

Remember we spend a third of our lives in bed.  A good-quality mattress and pillow that suits your needs can make a significant difference in the quality of your sleep. Choose the right firmness and support for your needs. It is vital to determine what works for you – firm mattress or softer mattress.

Having the best mattress suitable to your needs and preferences is vital to making sure that you are comfortable enough to relax. Investing in a supportive mattress and pillow helps ensure that your spine gets proper support to avoid aches and pains.

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Invest in comfortable sheets and bedding

When your bed is inviting it will make it more appealing. Your sheets and blankets play a major role in helping your bed feel inviting. Look for bedding that feels comfortable to the touch and that will help maintain a comfortable temperature during the night.

Sheets and comforters in natural fabrics are more comfortable.  The pure and natural nature of cotton means that when used in bed linen, it is breathable. This is essential as it will absorb your body heat as you sleep leaving you cool and dry. 

Limit Exposure to Electronic Devices

The blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers can disrupt your sleep. Avoid using these devices for at least an hour before bedtime, or consider using blue light-blocking glasses.  Establish a “digital curfew” and give yourself at least an hour of screen-free time before sleep.

Avoid Stimulants and Heavy Meals

Limit your intake of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially in the evening. These substances can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and maintain a deep sleep throughout the night. Additionally, avoid eating heavy meals close to bedtime, as this can cause discomfort and indigestion.

Avoid Looking at the Clock

Looking at the clock can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Watching the minutes and hours tick by as you can’t get sleep can provoke a sense of panic and stress.

Engage in Regular Physical Activity

Regular exercise during the day can help improve sleep quality. However, try to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime, as exercising too close to sleep can make it difficult to relax.

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Avoid alcohol and nicotine

While alcohol may make you drowsy initially, it can disrupt the quality of your sleep later in the night. Similarly, nicotine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Avoid both alcohol and nicotine before bed.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom

Make your bedroom a peaceful and calming environment. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light, earplugs or white noise machines to minimize noise disruptions, and consider using aromatherapy with scents like lavender or chamomile to promote relaxation.

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Manage Stress Levels

High stress levels can contribute to poor sleep quality. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques, journaling, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy. If necessary, consider seeking professional help or counseling.

Limit Napping

If you have trouble sleeping at night, avoid long or late afternoon naps. If you must nap, keep it short (around 20-30 minutes) and avoid napping too close to your bedtime.

Evaluate Your Sleep Environment

Check for any factors that may be disrupting your sleep, such as uncomfortable bedding, noise disturbances, or an unsuitable room temperature. Make adjustments to create a more sleep-friendly environment.

Keep a Sleep Diary

Maintain a sleep diary to track your sleep patterns, habits, and any factors that may affect your sleep. This can help you identify patterns and make adjustments to your sleep routine accordingly.

Seek professional help if needed

If you consistently struggle with sleep problems or suspect a sleep disorder, consider consulting a healthcare professional or a sleep specialist who can provide guidance and evaluate if there are any underlying conditions affecting your sleep.

Everyone’s sleep needs are unique, so it’s important to find what works best for you. Experiment with these suggestions and tailor them to fit your individual sleep patterns and preferences.

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