Did you know the average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep per night in order to function? Ideally, you need closer to nine hours of sleep, but this varies from person to person. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re going to struggle with your mental and physical health.
Do you find yourself struggling to get to sleep? And when you do fall asleep, are you tossing and turning, only to wake up with a sense of overwhelming exhaustion? The results of sleep deprivation can range from slowed thinking to low energy levels, to name a few.
One way to improve your sleep is to improve your sleep hygiene. But what is sleep hygiene?
In short, it’s how you take care of yourself and your environment before bed. Good sleep hygiene promotes better sleep.
Not sure how to get started? Read on to learn all about sleep hygiene and how to improve it so you can get a good night’s sleep.
Create an Optimal Sleeping Environment
This is a fun part of improving your overall sleep hygiene, but it might take some trial and error. Everyone’s ideal sleeping environment is different.
You want a cozy and comfortable place to rest your head every night. Make sure that you pick pillows and mattresses that are just firm enough to keep you feeling supported and cozy.
If you struggle with overheating at night, pick blankets and sheets that are breathable and soft. It’s okay if you and your partner (if applicable) need different blankets in order to stay comfortable.
Some people sleep better when they have a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets are good for anxious sleepers.
You should also consider other things that may be comforting. Some people use white noise to help them sleep while others like soothing scents, like lavender.
Take this opportunity to re-do your bedroom to turn it into a perfect sleeping oasis.
Follow a Nightly Routine
Turn bedtime into a ritual. By creating a consistent nightly routine, you’ll start to associate the early stages of your routine with sleep. This way, by the time your head finally hits the pillow, you’ll be in sleep mode.
Everyone’s nightly routine is different. Do something that makes you feel comfortable before bed. For example, you might read a few chapters of a book, drink some (non-caffeinated) tea, or take a warm bath.
Start your routine at the same time every night and try to keep the stages the same length. Give yourself at least a full half-hour to wind down, if not more. It can take a while for your brain to quiet itself before bed, especially if you’ve had a busy day.
Have a Consistent Sleep Schedule
You need to start prioritizing sleep if you want to have good sleep hygiene. Fit it into your schedule just as you would any other important things, like work or school. A lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other health issues.
While you’re trying to establish good sleep hygiene, it’s in your best interest to keep a consistent schedule even on days that you don’t work or go to school. That’s right: resist the urge to sleep in.
There are, of course, exceptions if you’re ill, if there’s a special event, or if there’s something else getting in the way of your schedule. For the most part, however, stay consistent.
You’ll be able to start making adjustments once you’ve adapted to getting better sleep.
Avoid Electronics Before Bedtime
This is a tough one when everyone has a pocket-sized computer in their hands at all times. Do your best to keep your electronics out of reach for at least a half-hour before bed.
The light from your electronics can keep you awake for longer. If you find yourself scrolling through social media or other websites, your brain may stay too “active” for you to fall asleep.
The exception to this is if you find videos or sounds calming. Some people like to fall asleep to the sound of television shows or YouTube videos. If this is the case for you, at least turn the brightness down to the lowest setting and don’t put the screen right in front of your face.
Start Healthy Habits
Did you know that maintaining good overall health can also improve your sleep hygiene? That’s right, what you do outside of bed matters just as much as what you do in bed.
Do your best to maintain a healthy diet. While everything is okay in moderation, you should focus on meals that provide you with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals that you need every day.
Certain minerals, like magnesium, may actually help with sleep. If you’re not getting enough in your diet, consider supplements.
You should also maintain an exercise routine. Exercising during the day will help you burn off excess energy so you feel tired at night. Make sure that you don’t exercise too close to bedtime or you may feel too energized to sleep.
Yoga, however, is a great pre-bedtime exercise. As you gently move and stretch your body, you’ll start to relax.
Bonus health tip: avoid drinking excess caffeine or alcohol. While alcohol can make you sleepy, it’s not good for restful sleep. People who are sensitive to caffeine may have to avoid drinking coffee, tea, or even hot chocolate hours before they want to go to bed.
Do You Have Good Sleep Hygiene?
If you’re experiencing some of the common signs of poor sleep hygiene, it’s time to start making changes! Start by establishing a comforting nighttime routine and making sure that your bedroom is a perfect sleeping oasis. Then, start trying our various sleep hygiene tips until you’re getting a good night’s sleep every night.