Sleep hygiene? Does that mean how often I clean my sheets? Whether I like to shower before bed or in the morning?
Though the term “sleep hygiene” may be a bit confusing to some people, it’s part of our everyday routine whether we’re aware of it or not. Simply put, sleep hygiene refers to your bedtime routine and habits, from your activities before bed to your actual sleep to your waking state and ritual.
Maintaining your sleep hygiene is just as important as any other wellness practice you may implement into your life. Just as you understand how tired and run down your body feels when you consume too much heavy, unhealthy food or spend too much time doing unhealthy hobbies, so too will you understand the importance of a healthy sleep hygiene routine once you’ve implemented one for yourself.
From an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier to a white noise machine to a relaxing bedtime ritual, here are x ways you can improve your sleep hygiene to ensure better rest, more energy and a healthier state of mind:
Set Boundaries With Technology
The studies about this subject are crystal clear: using electronics and exposing yourself to technology too soon before bed can drastically impact your ability to fall asleep and get a good night’s sleep. This is not only due to the mentally stimulating nature of most things you’re consuming through your phone, TV or laptop – it’s also due to the blue light those electronics emit. This light can reduce the amount of melatonin your body naturally produces, making sleep more evasive.
This is why experts recommend ending your daily screen time between 30 minutes and two hours before bedtime. Doing so may be challenging at first, but it’s the perfect opportunity to engage in other hobbies, like reading, writing, coloring or doing relaxing art projects.
Little kids often scoff and complain when their caregivers insist on putting them to bed at the same early time every single night. However, this technique is tried-and-true, and it’s not something that should end in childhood.
Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine as much as possible (yes, even on the weekends!) can make a huge difference in your quality of sleep. This is because going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day helps your body establish an internal clock that will automatically help you feel sleepy at the same time every day and help you sleep more deeply.
Try to adhere to this schedule as best as you can – give or take 20 to 30 minutes – for two weeks and see how different your body and your sleep start to feel.
Avoid Foods That Can Disrupt Sleep
After you’ve eaten a heavy meal, sleep can seem like the only thing you truly feel like doing. However, your body’s discomfort can also make sleep the one thing you can’t seem to do.
Eating a heavy meal too close to bed is discouraged for this very reason.
There are also certain ingredients that are known to disrupt sleep, even if eaten in a small meal before bed. Citrus fruits, spicy foods and fried foods all fall into this category. These are extremely risky ingredients if you’re someone who is prone to heartburn.
Avoid (Or At Least Limit) Naps
Another funny comparison between childhood and adulthood is that when we want naps the most (in adulthood) is when we need to be taking them less.
As tempting as a 2-hour long snooze can sound right after a long day at work, experts advise against this. This is because it ultimately won’t compensate for a poor night’s sleep and may cause you to throw off your sleep schedule even further for the following night. If you feel like you can’t go without a nap, try to limit yourself to no more than 20 to 30 minutes.
Create a Relaxing, Quiet Bedroom and Bedtime Routine
This is simultaneously the simplest and most challenging step of all. Turning your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary can make or break your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Luckily, this doesn’t mean you need to completely redecorate your bedroom – simply investing in a few key things and committing to dimming your lights at the same time every night can make all the difference you need.
For instance, invest in a white noise machine to keep those pesky city sounds at bay or pick up a new humidifier to ensure healthier breathing. A sleep mask might save the day for one person, while a cozy specialty pillow might be all another person needs.
It’s also important to create a relaxing, cozy bedtime ritual for yourself that will allow you to wind down in a healthy, nourishing way. Try meditation, reading, warm baths or special aromatherapy machines to create the self-care haven you deserve to fall asleep in.