Sleep is so important and it’s one of those things you’re either constantly struggling with or just completely overlooking, right? Well, I’d like to remind you how very important sleep is for your health and provide you with a few more tips for sleep hygiene.
Let’s talk about sleep hygiene, why it’s important, and how to amp up your nightly routine so you can sneak in some extra health boosters before bed — and actually get the rest you need to maintain good health.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
First, let’s define sleep hygiene. It’s the kind of odd word we’ve started using to describe good habits that promote a quality night of rest.
It’s a combination of several things that help to make sure that when your head hits the pillow, you’re out…sleeping through the night, then waking up in the morning feeling rested and ready to go.
Let’s not forget that the recommended amount of sleep for healthy adults is between 7 and 9 hours per night.
Why Is Sleep Hygiene Important?
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to improve your health.
It doesn’t cost a dime to get good rest, and it benefits every part of your body.
High-quality sleep is important for your:
- Blood sugar
- Mental health
- Mental acuity
- Immune system
How Can You Tell If You Have Poor Sleep Hygiene?
To some extent, sleeping poorly is just the norm, it’s what we’ve come to expect from our modern lives.
But, if you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, tossing and turning, waking up during the middle of the night, having to use the bathroom regularly during sleeping hours, waking up feeling tired, or feeling full of energy at night — then poor sleep hygiene could be part of your problem.
Poor quality sleep doesn’t have to be a way of life. If you start to pay attention to your sleep hygiene and make sure you prioritize your rest, it’s possible to feel amazing when you wake up in the morning.
Tips For Sleep Hygiene
I’ve talked about how important sleep is and 7 ways to start getting better at sleep hygiene in this article. Here are a few more of my recommendations to put sleep first on your list — so you can watch your health improve without much effort at all.
Don’t go to bed unless you’re actually tired
Say you’d really like to go to sleep at 10 PM, but you’ve been regularly staying up until 1 PM for years. Simply plopping down in bed at 10 PM, hoping to go to sleep probably isn’t going to yield the best results. There’s not much that’s more frustrating than laying in bed, annoyed that you can’t fall asleep. Better to be more realistic with your goals and try pushing your bedtime back by 15-30 minutes at a time until you land where you’d like to be.
Make sunlight your friend
When we talk about sleep hygiene, we talk a lot about making sure your room is nice and dark at night. We talk about getting sunlight in the middle of the day…but one key thing that often gets glossed over is the importance of allowing sunlight to stream through your window in the morning. Your body will naturally start to decrease melatonin production and help you wake up naturally in response to sunlight exposure. This, in turn, is linked to better sleep at night. If you live in a place with lots of bright lights outside and you have to keep your curtains shut to fall asleep, there are light-based alarm clocks that can fulfill this purpose for you.
Don’t rule out naps
You may think that a nap would destroy your ability to sleep at night, but that may not be true. It certainly seems to depend on the individual…there are people who wake up from a nap feeling refreshed and those who feel worse off than when the nap began…but studies seem to indicate that naps can be beneficial for memory, especially in younger people. Naps also seem to be of the biggest benefit when they are part of a daily habit. So, if you’re the type who enjoys a daily nap, especially if it’s earlier in the day, it may be a good idea to partake in a siesta and improve your nighttime sleep as well.
Lean in to the power of routine
Yes, a routine can be very powerful when it comes to sleep. For the best sleep hygiene, it’s important to maintain a fairly balanced sleep routine on a daily basis — so you wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. But what’s just as important is creating a nightly sleep routine that tells your body to expect sleep after you’ve performed a certain set of actions.
How To Create A Wind Down Routine
Sleep routines aren’t just for babies and kids. They work for children for a reason…and we shouldn’t dismiss their power as adults.
One great way to think about a sleep routine is to seize this opportunity to stack some other healthy habits on top of your nightly routine.
For example, you could start with a bit of relaxing meditation, guided visualization, or some yoga Nidra. Then follow it with a cup of tea and a bit of light reading. These kinds of habit stacks tell your body to start winding down, and that soon it will be time for sleep.
It’s important to start turning off the lights in your house and put your blue light-emitting devices away well before bedtime to allow the body’s natural melatonin production to kick in…so make that the first thing on your wind-down list.
Then follow that up with some things from this list of ideas:
- Yoga Nidra
- Light a candle
- Take a warm bath
- Guided visualization
- Drink a relaxing tea like chamomile
- Diffuse calming essential oils, like lavender
- Try some relaxing supplements like L-theanine, passionflower, magnesium, or lemon balm
It’s important to stay away from the news, social media, or anything that’s likely to get you worked up right before bedtime. Stick to the healthy, life-enriching things that you know will help you to relax.
Still Feeling Tired? Try This.
If you’ve done everything you can to maximize your sleep hygiene, and you’re still getting less-than-optimal rest, it’s possible there’s another underlying condition causing your sleep woes.
Try taking my quiz below and see if it sparks anything for you.
“Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4434546/.
“Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health – NCBI – NIH.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/.
“Splitting sleep between the night and a daytime nap … – Nature.” 5 Mar. 2021, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-84625-8.
“The effects of napping on cognitive functioning – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21075238/.