Good sleep hygiene promotes sound emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Poor or bad sleep hygiene does the complete opposite. The things you do during bedtime and many hours before constituting sleep hygiene.
You must become aware and cautious of your actions during the day as they can positively or negatively impact your sleep at night.
Good sleep hygiene entails keeping up with daily routines and a sleeping environment that enhances consistent and uninterrupted sleep. If you do the opposite, then you’re practicing poor sleep hygiene.
You can tell that you are practicing bad sleep hygiene if you do any of the following:
- Regular sleep disturbances
- Daytime sleepiness
- Take over 30 minutes to fall asleep after you get into bed
- Your doctor has diagnosed you as suffering from insomnia
- You wake up frequently more than one time every night
- You tend to spend 85 percent time asleep in bed
- You always remain awake for over twenty minutes after you wake up late at night
5 Good Sleep Hygiene
The following are some of the habits that can be categorized as good sleep hygiene practices:
1. Correct Setting of Thermostat
If you are among the one in every four Americans that suffer from insomnia annually, one of the causes affecting your sleep might be temperature. Our body temperature reduces during sleep. A cool, not cold room is handy at helping you not only settle but maintain deep sleep through the night.
So what’s the science between hotness/coolness and sleep? As already indicated, the body sheds some warmth from the moment you get into bed. The cooling process continues until it reaches its low point close to daybreak around 5 am.
Our bodies cool through the expansion of blood vessels on the skin. When body temperature begins dropping at night, our feet and hands might get warmer initially, as they allow heat to escape to mitigate core temperature. Of your sleeping environment’s temperature is too cold or hot, it might cause a drop in the body’s internal temperature thus disrupting your sleep.
This 2012 study noted that temperature is one of the most key factors necessary to attaining quality sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends bedroom temperature to be around 60 – 67 degrees F for optimal sleep. Are the temperature requirements different from babies? Well, the settings should not be vastly different. However, you can bump your thermostat one or two degrees provided you cloth them properly.
The rule of thumb is to avoid overheating the room with an infant as you can put them at the risk of SIDS.
Installing an auto thermostat is one of the most effective solutions towards maintaining the optimal temperature inside your room. You can program yours based on your schedule. It is also possible to track the weather or weekly forecasts and adjust your thermostat settings accordingly.
For your body to fine-tune to nighttime, you can set your thermostat to start cooling or warming before bedtime and then adjust it once you wake up. If you pair this with dimming lights, you can be all set for a comfortable and restful night.
2. Maintain A Consistent Sleeping Schedule
With the Covid-19 outbreak, the daily routines of many people were interrupted. Stepping out to watch your band, attending a football game, exercising at the gym, or taking a stroll at the beach were paused, at least for many people.
One thing that should not be affected is your sleep schedule. Sticking to a fixed sleep schedule plays a major role in ensuring you enjoy quality sleep at night. According to the CDC, we should sleep for not less than 7 hours on average. If you consistently fail to clock these number of hours, you risk suffering from memory loss and cardiovascular diseases.
The National Institutes of Health further claims that lack of better sleep increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, irritability, and slowed reaction times. You must get to sleep better at night.
Having a regular sleeping schedule and sticking to it makes sure your body’s circadian rhythm works as it ought to. The internal o’clock of the body is very important in controlling the sleep-wake cycle. This clock informs the body when you are supposed to wake up and when to snooze.
Impacted by melatonin, the circadian rhythm obtains its cues from the light present within your environment. During dusk, our bodies begin the production and release of melatonin to help you fall asleep.
There is more to establishing an ideal sleep-wake cycle. On top of that, you also need to do the hard work of ensuring you strictly stick to the schedule.
A good way to maintaining your regular sleeping schedule is by making sure you do not sleep during the weekends. As tempting as it can be, the last thing you want is to spend the entire Saturday and Sunday on the bed. The rule of thumb is to stick to the same schedule throughout the week. Forget altering it on weekends.
Note: If you want to know the best time to sleep and wake up, check this sleep cycle calculator.
3. Optimize Your Sleeping Environment
You can do several things to optimize your sleeping environment. Because we spend much time in our bedrooms throughout our lives, it is prudent to ensure that it remains in tip-top shape through and through.
Some of the things you can do to optimize your sleeping environment include:
- Clean out all potential distractions
- Remove all electronics
- Ensure the room is dark
- Make sure the room is calm and quiet
- The room should be cool
- Take advantage of aromatherapy
- Ensure your bed and pillows are comfortable
- Paint sleep-friendly colors
4. Exercise Early
Exercise is highly important for better health. It helps in disease prevention, weight control, and reduced stress. Exercises also have a role to play in your quality of sleep.
The time you choose to work out impacts your sleep big time. Working out during the wee hours of the morning results in a deeper sleep. If you do it consistently, you stand to enjoy deeper sleep cycles.
Moreover, you’ll enjoy more time within the reparative slumber stages compared to doing it late in the day.
Exercising outdoors is better than indoors as sunshine helps control the wake/sleep cycle.Also Read:
5. Eat Sleep Friendly Foods
The food you eat is another factor that plays a role in encouraging or discouraging good sleep hygiene. Making changes to your diet is necessary to enjoy good sleep quality. Some drinks and foods, according to this research boast sleep-enhancing properties.
Some of the sleep-friendly foods and drinks include:
Oatmeal is rich in fiber, carbs, and melatonin. All these improve your sleep.
Dairy products like plain yogurt, cottage cheese, and milk are rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is a great facilitator of excellent sleep. Milk according to some studies enhances sleep especially when you pair it with light exercise.Related: L-Tryptophan Dosage For Sleep And Sleep-Related Disorders
White rice is lower in antioxidants, nutrients, and fiber compared to brown rice. While that is the case, it boasts a decent amount of minerals and vitamins. This study found out that taking white rice one hour before sleep enhances your sleep.
Walnut is rich in copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. They are also rich sources of linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy fats. The fact that they are a great source of melatonin means they are good for improving your sleep. This study seems to agree.
Bananas are a rich source of magnesium. Their peels have tryptophan. Both tryptophan and magnesium are handy at helping you enjoy a restful sleep.
Fatty fish like mackerel, trout, tuna, and salmon are incredibly healthy. The combination of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to improve the quality of sleep as they escalate serotonin production based on this study. in the study, it was discovered that those that ate salmon (300 grams) thrice per week for six months, fell asleep ten minutes faster compared to those that didn’t.
Passionflower tea is one of the most effective herbal teas when it comes to calming and stress relieving properties. This study established that this tea helps in the production of GABA that works to inhibit stress-inducing chemicals like glutamate. Its calming properties promote sleepiness.
Almonds are a rich source of the melatonin hormone. Melatonin is efficient at regulating the body’s internal clock which signals the body that it’s time to sleep.
You have to adore the nutritious and delicious nature of taking turkey. Rich in protein, protein is handy at ensuring your muscles not only remain strong but also controlling your appetite. This evidence suggests that taking controlled amounts of protein results in better sleep quality. Turkey also controls tryptophan which is a great enhancer of sleep.
Eating kiwi is beneficial to your body in countless ways. For starters, it helps lower cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and is of immense benefit to your digestive health. This research sought to establish whether eating kiwis several hours before bed improved the quality of sleep of participants.
The study concluded that taking kiwi helps you fall asleep 42 percent faster than when you don’t eat the fruits. Furthermore, the fruit improves your capability to avoid waking up at night by more 5 percent.
The health benefits of chamomile tea are out of this world. They run into their hundreds.
When it comes to sleep, chamomile tea helps you fall asleep faster and enjoy fewer awakenings at night.
Tart cherry juice
Studies such as this one and this one established that taking tart cherry juice before bedtime drastically enhances your sleep quality because it is rich in melatonin.Know More:
- 14 Best Foods To Eat (And 8 Foods to Avoid ) Before Bed For Better Sleep
- 5 Best Teas That Will Lull You Into Sleep
- 6 Best Tart Cherry Capsules For Sleep: Ultimate Guide (2023 Updated)
5 Bad Sleep Hygiene
In addition to doing the complete opposite of the good sleep hygiene practices we have highlighted above, the following are some of the habits that can be categorized as bad sleep hygiene:
1. Caffeine Before Bed
The consumption of caffeinated beverages is highly widespread in the USA. According to the National Consumers League, close to 85% of Americans take one caffeinated drink every day. Although caffeine improves performance, its withdrawal results in deficits in behavioral, emotional, and cognitive processes.
This study opines that the consumption of caffeine adversely affects your sleep. Daily intake of caffeine before bedtime not only reduces sleep quality, it also raises your daytime sleepiness. The same research established that caffeinated drinks, taken six hours before sleeping disrupts sleep by more than one hour.
When you take caffeine throughout the day, your quality of sleep will decrease.
Some of the sources of caffeine that you need to avoid before bedtime include:
- Some drugs
- Some soft drinks
So what are the recommended intake levels for caffeinated beverages? A Mayo Clinic research opines that adults should not take over 400mg of caffeine per day. If you feel the urge to take anything with caffeine, you should choose decaffeinated drinks.
In summary, taking caffeine before you head to bed leads to the following:
- Increased night-time disturbance
- Increased daytime dysfunction
- Poorer sleep quality
2. Taking Alcohol
The severe consequences of consuming alcohol are countless. From ‘cosmetic’ inconveniences like premature aging to more alarming outcomes like cancer, drinks with alcohol can take a huge toll on your health.
In addition to affecting the quality of your sleep according to this study, taking alcohol will make you feel sluggish and tired. Moreover, alcohol might not only suppresses breathing but can also precipitate sleep apnea. While alcohol can help you nod quicker as well as sleep deeper for a while, it reduces your REM sleep. The more alcoholic content you take, the more pronounced effects you’ll have to grapple with.
When your REM sleep is affected as a result of taking alcohol, you will suffer from poor concentration and daytime drowsiness.
3. Using Gadgets Several Minutes To Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation opines that up to 90% of Americans use some form of technological gadget before they head to sleep. This study makes it clear that using gadgets before bedtime brings with it a negative impact on your sleep. If you are into winding down during the night by checking your social media from your phone, playing video games, reading e-books, or even watching television, you can suffer from poor sleep quality.
Using these gadgets or electronic devices delays the circadian rhythm which is also known as the body’s internal clock. Additionally, they halt the production and release of melatonin which is a sleep-inducing hormone hence making it difficult for you to sleep.
The fact that they emit blue light is the major reason these devices take a toll on your sleep.
It is prudent to switch off all electronics or technology devices in your bedroom especially 2 hours before you sleep. With your smartphone, you can leave it in the living room or adjacent rooms to prevent yourself from getting distracted.
4. Late-Night Eating
For many people, including myself, late-night eating constitutes part of our nightly ritual. We eat some crackers and cheese over here or a bowl of cereals over there before bedtime. Others end their weekend night out with some heavy snacking. Well, from my research, I’ve concluded that late-night eating isn’t good not only for our sleep but also for weight and digestion.
This research sought to establish the relationship between sleep and the time we consume food. When we consume food during the late hours of the night especially immediately before bedtime, the muscles responsible for digesting and metabolizing our food are put to work instead of being at rest. Such a thing delays your ability to fall asleep.
Furthermore, you also have a difficult time getting the restful and deep sleep stages that you so deserve to enjoy a refreshed day. Late-night eating throws your body out of sync. It is tied directly to poor health.
Consuming meals before bedtime brings with it the following issues:
- Increased weight gain
- Drastic changes in your metabolism
- Raised blood sugar levels
- Raised blood pressure
The rule of thumb is to try your best to consumer meals at least two hours before bedtime. If you grapple with nighttime heartburn, stick to eating three to four hours before lying down to sleep.
At times, you can still feel hungry even after dinner. It is also possible to have a rumbling stomach keeping you awake. If you have such an experience, choose to take something with fiber and protein. Some great choices include:
- Air-popped popcorn
- A tiny portion of almonds
- Hummus and veggies
- Some cheese and fruit
- Greek yogurt
5. Eat Sleep Unfriendly Doods and Drinks
Some of the sleep unfriendly foods and drinks include:
Digestion of red meat takes time which can cause cramping and discomfort. All of these can affect your sleep.
While some people are into the burn inside the mouth, it might last longer than initially desired. Spicy foods are notorious for producing excess amounts of stomach acid resulting in discomfort, bloating and heartburn all that come in the way of a good night’s sleep.
Taking ice cream is a ritual for many people in the evenings. Unfortunately, taking it at night is the worst thing you can ever do. It contains huge amounts of fat that are digested at a slow rate. Their high sugar content will also keep you up at night.
Read More: Should You Eat Ice Cream Before Bed?
Some vegetables like cauliflower, onions, cabbage, and broccoli are rich in insoluble fiber.
Remaining hydrated throughout the day is healthy for the body. However, during nighttime, refrain from taking too many fluids because of the associated countless trips to the bathroom that can interrupt your sleep.