You may have heard the term “sleep hygiene” and found it confusing. No, it doesn’t mean washing your face and brushing your teeth before bed. We tend to forget that hygiene doesn’t simply mean cleanliness; it refers to the sets of activities, routines, and environmental factors that impact our daily health.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to the different activities we go through before we go to bed at night.
The National Sleep Foundation defines good sleep hygiene as being the “variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.” For better or worse, we all practice sleep hygiene before bed.
Why Practice Good Sleep Hygiene?
The way you feel while you’re awake is dependent on what happens while your body is sleeping. Good sleep hygiene before bedtime may lead to better sleep quality. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function, as well as memory retention. This is especially important for children and teens, since sleep helps to support their growth and development.
Getting a full night of rest may support concentration and focus, as well as promote productivity throughout the day. Deep sleep also helps to restore your physical body. During sleep, broken cells are repaired. In essence, your body is being renewed while you sleep at night.
Sleep Hygiene Mistakes You May Be Making
As mentioned earlier, we all practice sleep hygiene, whether it’s good or bad. Common sleep hygiene mistakes include:
- Using Digital LED Screens Before Bedtime (this includes TV’s, iPhones, tablets, etc…)
Blue LED lights (found in electronics and energy-efficient light bulbs) have a powerful effect upon the brain. They activate the brain and prevent it from winding down at night. Blue lights do this by hindering the release of Melatonin into your body, which affects your ability to sleep at night.
- Sleeping in an Environment That Has Light and Noise Pollution
Similar to the blue LED lights mentioned above, sleeping in a room with a lot of light pollution, whether from a window or a nearby night light, can negatively impact your ability to fall asleep at night. Consider using drapes or a sleep mask to help create a dark sleeping environment.
Additionally, loud ambient noises at night (from traffic or other sources) can disrupt normal sleep patterns. For those that live in a city, consider earplugs to cancel those disruptive noises.
- Eating Carbs Before Bed
Eating a large amount of carbs before bed can cause a blood sugar spike. This can be problematic because a rapid blood sugar spike during the middle of the night can jolt you awake. Consider a protein rich snack before bed as an alternative like greek yogurt with berries.
How Can I Support My Sleep Hygiene?
Good sleep hygiene consists of creating a good evening ritual. An evening ritual consists of a set of routines and habits that lead to increased sleep quality. Below are some of the habits you can add to your sleep hygiene.
- Journaling Before Bedtime
One of the best ways to wind down at night is to journal about your day. Journaling is powerful because it causes you to externalize what you are thinking. This can have a impactful, calming effect. Write down goals for the day ahead. This helps to reduce the stress of the coming day because you have an actionable list of items that you can knock out in the morning.
- Consider a Natural Sleep Aid
Sometimes you need a little something extra to help you sleep at night. Consider taking a natural sleep aid. Keep in mind it is important to choose a sleep aid that will help you with the area of sleep that you find problematic. For instance, are you looking to fall asleep? Or stay asleep? Make sure to select a formula that will give you the result that you are looking for.
- Read a Book
Another great way to help yourself fall asleep is to read a book at night. Books are a great option because they require a good deal of cognitive effort. This effort can help to tire your brain down and prepare you for sleep. Just make sure to read book that isn’t too exciting! Non-fiction is a good option before bed, save the thrillers for daytime reading.
There you have it, upgrade your sleep hygiene and start sleeping better! What methods do you find help you sleep? Let us know in the comments.