What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is the habits that help you get to, or to maintain sleep. A good way to think of this is that sleep hygiene is a whole lot of tools, tricks and methods to help our brains and bodies realise that it is time to sleep, to help us get off to sleep and to help us sleep well.
So what is the method to getting better sleep?
Help your body realise the patterns
Our bodies have an internal clock called the circadian rhythm, which helps regulate sleep, wakefulness, and even hunger. Have you ever experienced jet lag? That disoriented feeling is a result of your circadian rhythm being thrown off balance. However, there are ways to set it right. Aim for a consistent bedtime and wake time, ideally around 8 hours of sleep. When you feel tired, go to bed. In the morning and throughout the day, make sure to get some sunshine. At night, create a dark and calming sleep environment, and minimise your exposure to blue light from devices like phones and tablets a few hours before bed.
Relax your mind
Allocate time earlier in the day to jot down any concerns or tasks for tomorrow, allowing you to free your mind from these thoughts before sleep. If these concerns persist during the night, keep a pen and paper next to your bed and write them down. This way, you can avoid trying to solve problems or remember things instead of focusing on sleep.
Incorporate mindfulness techniques to shift your mental focus. When your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your body. Pay attention to your breaths and the rise and fall of your stomach. Counting your breaths can be helpful if needed. Alternatively, you can try guided meditation or mindfulness exercises using apps such as Smiling Mind, Headspace, or Calm.
Turn away from the clocks
Watching the clock at night doesn’t help and often increases frustration. Instead, remove clocks or any timekeeping devices from your line of sight when you’re trying to sleep. This can alleviate unnecessary anxiety and allow you to focus on relaxation.
Help your mind and body prepare for rest
Engage in regular exercise throughout the day, as physical activity can contribute to better sleep. Avoid using your bed for activities other than sleep and intimate moments, as this helps reinforce the association between bed and sleep.
If you find yourself lying awake in bed for an extended period, it’s advisable to get up and engage in a calming activity like reading until you feel tired enough to sleep. Avoid consuming caffeine or engaging in highly stressful or thought-provoking activities before bedtime. Additionally, minimise the use of electronic devices that emit stimulating blue light.
Taking a warm bath before bed can help lower your body temperature, inducing a sense of drowsiness. Alternatively, you may opt for a glass of milk, which can have a soothing effect on the body and mind.
By implementing these practices and adopting a consistent sleep routine, you can improve your sleep hygiene and enjoy more restful nights. Remember, prioritising your sleep is crucial for your overall well-being and daily performance.