What is Sleep Hygiene?

night interior of bedroom with flowers and burning candles

While sleep is one of the most critical components for overall health and well-being, most people struggle to get the rest they need. There are many reasons for this including sleep-disordered breathing, which can be diagnosed and treated by the professionals at Breathing and Sleep Center in Colorado Springs.

However, many times the lack of quality sleep is due to sleep hygiene. In this article, we’ll explain more about what sleep hygiene is and why it is so important, as well as provide you with practical tips to help you improve your own sleep hygiene for a healthier, more rejuvenated life.

Defining Sleep Hygiene

The term sleep hygiene refers to a set of habits and practices that can help you get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. This involves a variety of behavioral and environmental changes aimed at improving the duration and quality of sleep. Just as you maintain personal hygiene to remain physically clean and healthy, practicing good sleep hygiene ensures that you get the restful, restorative sleep you need.

What are the Key Components of Sleep Hygiene?

The key components of sleep hygiene include:

  • Consistent sleep schedule: Making sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day- even on weekends and holidays- can help balance your body’s internal clock. This will make it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up naturally.
  • Soothing bedtime routine: Take time to practice calming activities before bed, such as taking a warm bath, practicing meditation/relaxation techniques, or reading. This will indicate to your body that it’s time to wind down. It’s best to turn off the TV or computer and put your phone away at least an hour before bed to allow your mind time to relax.
  • Optimize your sleep environment: Your bedroom should be sleep-friendly. This means that it should be cool, dark, and quiet. You should invest in a quality mattress and pillows and use blackout curtains and/or a white noise machine to improve your sleep quality.
  • Limit exposure to screens: As mentioned previously, it’s best to turn off screens at least an hour before bed. This is because the blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with the production of melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for sleep.
  • Mindful eating and drinking: Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as well as large meals, close to bedtime. While alcohol can make you feel drowsy, it can interrupt your sleep later in the night.
  • Physical activity: Regular exercise can ensure that you fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep. However, it’s important to complete your workouts at least a few hours before bed to allow your body time to wind down.

Why is Sleep Hygiene Important?

According to the sleep doctors at Breathing and Sleep Center in Colorado Springs, good sleep hygiene is critical for several reasons:

  • Improved mental health: Research has proven that quality sleep is critical for your mental well-being. It helps to regulate mood, reduce stress, and enhance cognitive functioning such as decision-making, problem-solving, and memory.
  • Physical health benefits: Adequate sleep has proven to support a variety of bodily functions, including cardiovascular health, metabolism, and your immune system. Poor sleep increases your risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.
  • Improved productivity and focus: Well-rested individuals are typically more alert and focused, which means they are more productive. Proper sleep improves reaction times, reduces errors, and enhances overall performance whether at work, school, or during daily activities.
  • Emotional stability: Sleep plays a crucial role in emotional regulation. Lack of quality sleep can lead to mood swings, difficulty coping with stress, irritability, and more. On the other hand, quality sleep can maintain emotional balance and resilience.
  • Long-term overall health: Establishing and maintaining good sleep hygiene habits can contribute to a longer, healthier life. Consistently achieving quality sleep has been associated with lower mortality rates and a better quality of life as we age.

How to Improve Sleep Hygiene

If you have not had good sleep hygiene, there are a few things you can do, including:

  • Set a sleep schedule: Choose a bedtime and wake-up time that allows at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep- and stick to it every day.
  • Create a sleep-friendly environment: Create a haven for sleep by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. If necessary, use blackout curtains, a white noise machine, earplugs, and/or an eye mask.
  • Limit screen time: Reduce exposure to screens and blue light in the evening. Consider using apps or settings that reduce blue light emission from your devices.
  • Establish a bedtime routine: Develop a soothing pre-sleep routine that may include meditation, reading, and stretching.
  • Be mindful of food and drink: Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bed. If you’re hungry in the evening, opt for a light snack instead.
  • Stay active: Incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine. However, avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.

Schedule Your Sleep Evaluation Today

If you’re struggling to get quality sleep, try improving your sleep hygiene. By adopting these habits, you can improve the quality of rest and enjoy the many benefits that come with it.

However, if you are still struggling with achieving quality sleep, you may be dealing with sleep-disordered breathing such as sleep apnea. Schedule your sleep evaluation today with the sleep doctors at Breathing and Sleep Center. We can diagnose and treat your sleep conditions to help you improve your sleep and health.

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