Paying attention to sleep hygiene is one of the most straightforward ways that you can set yourself up for better sleep.
Strong sleep hygiene means having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and building healthy habits during the day can all contribute to ideal sleep hygiene.
Every sleeper can tailor their sleep hygiene practices to suit their needs. In the process, you can harness positive habits to make it easier to sleep soundly throughout the night and wake up well-rested.
Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health, improving productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone, from children to older adults, can benefit from better sleep, and sleep hygiene can play a key part in achieving that goal.
Research has demonstrated that forming good habits is a central part of health1. Crafting sustainable and beneficial routines makes healthy behaviours feel almost automatic, creating an ongoing process of positive reinforcement. On the flip side, bad habits can become engrained even as they cause negative consequences.
Thankfully, humans have an impressive ability2 to make our habits serve our long-term interests. Building an environment and set of routines that promote our goals can really pay off.
Sleep hygiene encompasses both environment and habits, and it can pave the way for higher-quality sleep and better overall health.
Improving sleep hygiene has little cost and virtually no risk, making it an important part of a public health strategy3 to counteract the serious problems of insufficient sleep and insomnia.
Having a hard time falling asleep, experiencing frequent sleep disturbances, and suffering daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. An overall lack of consistency in sleep quantity or quality can also be a symptom of poor sleep hygiene.
Good sleep hygiene is all about putting yourself in the best position to sleep well each and every night.
Optimising your sleep schedule, pre-bed routine, and daily routines is part of harnessing habits to make quality sleep feel more automatic. At the same time, creating a pleasant bedroom environment can be an invitation to relax and doze off.
A handful of tips can help in each of these areas, they aren’t rigid requirements. You can adapt them to fit your circumstances and create your own sleep hygiene checklist to help get the best sleep possible.
Having a set schedule normalises sleep as an essential part of your day and gets your brain and body accustomed to getting the full amount of sleep that you need.
How you prepare for bed can determine how easily you’ll be able to fall asleep. A pre-sleep playbook including some of these tips can put you at ease and make it easier to get to fall asleep when you want to.
It’s not just bedtime habits that play a part in getting good sleep. Incorporating positive routines during the day can support your circadian rhythm and limit sleep disruptions.
A central component of sleep hygiene beyond just habits is your sleep environment. To fall asleep more easily, you want your bedroom to emanate tranquillity.
While what makes a bedroom inviting can vary from one person to the next, these tips may help make it calm and free of disruptions:
The basic concept of sleep hygiene — that your environment and habits can be optimised for better sleep — applies to just about everyone, but what ideal sleep hygiene looks like can vary based on the person.
For that reason, it’s worth testing out different adjustments to find out what helps your sleep the most. You don’t have to change everything at once; small steps can move you toward better sleep hygiene.
It’s also important to know that improving sleep hygiene won’t always resolve sleeping problems. People who have serious insomnia or sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnoea may benefit from better sleep hygiene, but other treatments are usually necessary as well.
In other words, even though it may be beneficial, sleep hygiene alone isn’t a panacea. If you have long-lasting or severe sleeping problems or daytime sleepiness, it’s best to talk with a doctor who can recommend the most appropriate course of treatment.
Content provided by SleepFoundation.org
1 Gardner, B., Lally, P., & Wardle, J. (2012). Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 62(605), 664–666.https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp12X659466
2 National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2012, January). NIH News in Health: Breaking Bad Habits. Retrieved July 10, 2020, fromhttps://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/01/breaking-bad-habits
3 Irish, L. A., Kline, C. E., Gunn, H. E., Buysse, D. J., & Hall, M. H. (2015). The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep medicine reviews, 22, 23–36.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001
4 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (2011, September). In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep. Retrieved June 15, 2020, fromhttps://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthysleepfs.pdf
5 Zandy, M., Chang, V., Rao, D. P., & Do, M. T. (2020). Tobacco smoke exposure and sleep: estimating the association of urinary cotinine with sleep quality. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada, 40(3), 70–80.https://doi.org/10.24095/hpcdp.40.3.02
6 Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the nervous system. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 681304.https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/681304
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. (2016, July 15). CDC – Sleep Hygiene Tips – Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Retrieved June 15, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html