There’s nothing like crawling into bed after a long and exhausting day, ready for a deep and blissful sleep. Except when you finally close your eyes, you find yourself unable to fall asleep right away. Or you have a restless night tossing and turning. Then when your alarm clock blares you awake in the early morning, you’re left feeling groggy with your energy levels already depleted. Why might this be, and how can we fix this?
You might be wondering what this is, and why this is important. Sleep is sleep… is it not? Well, studies show that your behaviours during the day and right before you go to bed contribute immensely to the quality of sleep you get each night (Hersh, 2020). Sleep hygiene refers to healthy sleep habits, which support your overall physical and mental health.
Think of when you were a child (or if you have children), and the kind of routine that accompanies the process of getting ready for bed. Toddlers have nighttime scripts that are adopted: a bath is followed by quiet-time and lowlights, then they are tucked into bed and a story is read, and white noise is turned on (and by this stage if the child is not already passed out, they will be soon). Oh, as an adult doesn’t this sound so peaceful and marvellous? These nighttime routines shouldn’t only be reserved for children – establishing good sleep hygiene habits can greatly impact the quality of your life!
More often than not, we spend our evenings bustling around doing last minute prep work to get ready for the next day ahead, and then once we flop down into bed our eyes are glued to the blue light that’s being emitted from our phones, laptops, and TV’s. These distractions hinder our ability to get a good night’s sleep, and leave us feeling extra tired the next day. Sleep hygiene encompasses both environment and routines, and it can pave the way for high-quality sleep and overall health (Suni, 2021).
Here are some tips to help you adopt strong sleep hygiene habits:
- Stick with a consistent routine at night to automatically help your body prepare for sleep
- Wind-down (put aside stressful thoughts, work, and cleaning – try reading a book on the couch, taking a hot shower or bath, drinking some tea, or listening to soothing music)
- Dim the lights and keep your room at a cool/comfortable temperature
- Unplug electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed
- Relax – try meditating to clear your mind, use calming scents like lavender, and turn on soothing white noise
- Make sure you get some morning daylight exposure (catching some sun rays allows your circadian rhythm to be activated, and this stimulates quality sleep)
- Try to avoid napping (if you must, keep it less than an hour, and nap before 3pm)
- Stick to healthy lifestyle choices – physical activity and nutritious foods improves sleep quality
- Reserve the bedroom strictly for sleep and sex (don’t bring work or other activities to bed) – this strengthens your brain’s association between your bed and sleep, making it easier to have a restful snooze at night
Create your own bedtime ritual! Try different things that work for you, and see how this optimizes the quality of your sleep. Creating a relaxing and inviting bedroom environment will have you dozing off to the best sleeps of your life in no time… sweet dreams!
Megan Binder (B.A. Psychology)
Gliva, H. (2021). The importance of sleep hygiene. Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.lutherwood.ca/mentalhealth/blog/2020/the-importance-of-sleep-hygiene
Healthy sleep habits. (2017, February). Retrieved February 07, 2021, from http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits
Hersh, E. (2020, August 17). 10 Healthy Sleep Hygiene Habits. Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-hygiene#exercise
Molano, J. (2020, June 2). Why good sleep hygiene is important during the covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.brainandlife.org/the-magazine/online-exclusives/sleeps-health-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/
Suni, E. (2021, January 25). What is sleep hygiene? Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene