What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is the name given to the habits around going to bed and to sleep. Adults need around eight hours of sleep each night, and children need even more than that. However, recent data shows that three out of ten of Australians aren’t getting enough sleep, and only one out of seven Australians are able to sleep through the night without waking up.
While it’s important to note that developing healthy sleep habits won’t solve everyone’s sleep problems, they’re still worth trying.
Why is it important to practice good sleep hygiene?
Good sleep hygiene is important because it helps your body fall asleep faster and into a deeper sleep. Developing healthy sleep habits is vital for your mental and physical wellbeing.
Quality, deep sleep helps keep your immune system strong so you can fight off diseases. Sleep also gives your body time to rest, heal, and grow, while allowing your brain to develop memories. A lack of sleep has been linked to physical problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and—in extreme cases—premature death. Practicing good sleep hygiene might not seem important, but the amount of sleep you get can have a big effect on your life.
What are signs of poor sleep hygiene?
If you think you might have poor sleep hygiene, keep an eye out for these symptoms.
People rarely yawn when they’re feeling awake and full of energy. It’s an involuntary act that tells us and those around us that we’re sleepy and not alert.
General moodiness or feeling blue can be caused by a lack of sleep and poor sleep hygiene. Not to be confused with clinical depression, which is a diagnosable disorder that affects many people, mild moodiness can often be cured with a good night’s sleep.
Fatigue is generally a very common symptom of sleep deprivation. It can make you feel exhausted and lacking in motivation (even for activities you previously enjoyed) throughout the day. Fatigue can be especially worrying if it interferes with your everyday life.
If you’re not getting enough energy to function properly from sleep, your body will tell you to seek it elsewhere. This means you may find yourself hungrier than normal. Suddenly increasing your food intake can cause health problems, as your body may not be able to adapt and process the extra calories you consume.
Forgetfulness and memory loss
Sleep is linked to memory, so if you’re not sleeping enough you may find yourself unable to recall certain events. Poor sleep can be particularly bad for your short-term memory, so not being able to recall what happened the day before is a strong sign you need more shuteye.
Tips on how I can improve my sleep hygiene
If you’re looking for ways to feel well rested, try these sleep hygiene tips.
Establish regular sleep patterns
Helping your body know when it’s time for bed will make falling asleep easier. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
Go to bed when you’re tired
Most adults need eight hours of sleep, but some people function fine on less than that. Don’t try and force yourself to stay awake when you’re tired, or to go to bed when you’re still alert.
Use your bed for sleep
While it can be tempting to look at your phone in bed, it’s a bad idea for several reasons. Firstly, your bed is a place for sleep, and the more you tell yourself that, the easier it will be to fall asleep. Secondly, most phone screens have a lot of blue light, which can prevent you from falling asleep. Thirdly, exposing yourself to social media and news can make your mind race and prevent you from fully relaxing.
Relax and unwind before going to bed
Part of establishing a healthy sleep pattern is telling your body when it’s time for sleep. This can involve relaxing with a book, a nightly shower or soothing bath, a warm cup of camomile tea, or whatever else works for you.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed
It should be a no-brainer that a cup of coffee right before bed will stop you from getting quality sleep. Some people need to avoid coffee only three hours before bed, while others need to avoid it for at least six hours to have a good sleep. It’ll be up to you to determine how long your body takes to process caffeine.
Alcohol can help some people get to sleep, but don’t expect to wake up feeling well rested. Having even a small amount of alcohol before falling asleep can actually disrupt you throughout the night, resulting in poor quality sleep. Stick to water before bed.
Avoid sleeping tablets
Sleeping tablets may help you go to sleep, but they won’t address the root cause of poor sleep hygiene and can hurt you in the long run. Try to only take sleeping tablets when your doctor prescribes them and stop taking them when they’re no longer necessary, as they can be addictive.
If you try all these sleep hygiene tips and still experience poor sleep hygiene symptoms, you may need to see a health professional. But remember that developing proper sleep hygiene is a process, not a quick solution. Give your body time to develop good sleeping habits.
Investing in a new mattress or bedding can help improve your sleep hygiene. Browse the Sleepy’s product range to turn your bedroom into a sleep haven.