The phrase “sleep hygiene” refers to the habits and practices necessary for a sound night’s sleep. There are many bad habits which people get into, that adversely affect their quality of sleep, resulting in a sleep deficit. Long-term lack of sleep risks dangerous conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It shortens life expectancy.
Here are five simple ideas which can ensure good sleep hygiene.
1: Avoid Caffeine or Alcoholic Drinks
Caffeine is a known stimulant that affects your nervous system and interferes with sleep quality. It stays in the system for 6-8 hours, so the best time to stop drinking coffee is mid-afternoon. Alcohol makes people feel drowsy and fall asleep quickly, but it has a tendency to disrupt sleep later in the night.
2: Cut Out Blue Light
Most electronic display devices including smartphones, laptops, PC monitors and televisions have cool blue-white backlighting that inhibits melatonin production in the brain and disrupts sleep. Many devices can be set to block blue light after a certain time so that the screen has a warmer, more relaxing hue.
3: Consistent Bedtime
Setting yourself a regular bedtime helps in long-term sleep quality. If you wake up at night and feel you won’t get back to sleep, it’s often helpful to get up and read a paper book (not a backlit e-book) in subdued light. You can also do this before going to bed to relax the mind for sleep.
Exercising can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. It typically results in less restlessness and more sleep time. Sometimes it’s advised to avoid strenuous cardio exercise at night, on the basis that it increases body temperature and interferes with sleep. This is something that may vary between individuals.
5: Restful Environment
The bedroom should be restful, quiet, dark and cool. The bed has to be comfortable with a careful choice of mattress and pillows. Quiet can be interrupted in many ways, but earplugs are often effective. Switching all electronics off and using blackout curtains ensures sufficient darkness.
Just remember, developing healthy sleep habits are an important part of your holistic wellbeing. As the Thomas Dekker said, “Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.”