Updated August 1, 2020For some, sleeping peacefully through the night can feel like an impossible task. Even more so, trying to fall asleep in the first place. Whether it be the looming stress from work or the city noises outside your bedroom, sleeplessness is an issue approximately 30 percent of the population struggles with.While the term “hygiene” has many of us thinking of hand-washing or our overall cleanliness, “sleep hygiene” is anything but. In actuality, it regards the habits and practices a person follows to get the best possible sleep. The simplest of changes in your daytime routine can make bounds of difference when you get in bed.Although caffeinated beverages such as a cup of coffee or tea supplement sleep in the short-term, nothing beats a good night’s rest. Ultimately, getting 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep is one of the best things you can do to sustain a healthy body and lifestyle.Signs of Good Sleep Hygiene vs. Bad Sleep HygieneIf you’ve struggled with sleeping for a while, it may be hard knowing what being well-rested feels like. It’s important to see what good and bad sleep hygiene each look like to determine whether or not your habits are in need of some improvement.Good Sleep HygieneWhen practicing good sleep hygiene, you’ll find yourself to be more alert and productive whether you’re at work or school. Sleeping well at night also boosts your mood and keeps you energized during the day.At nighttime, sleep comes more naturally. You won’t be tossing and turning painstakingly for hours before finally getting some rest, nor will you be constantly disturbed while asleep. When you have good sleep hygiene, you feel better and more rested during the days, and fall asleep easier come bedtime.Bad Sleep HygieneOn the other hand, when you have bad sleep hygiene, your body won’t let you forget it.During the daytime, you may find yourself constantly sluggish and in dire need of a nap. And if you choose to take a nap, it may be hours before you wake up. Extended naps can put off your body’s sleep-wake cycle, leaving you up hours later than usual and making it hard to sleep properly at night.Lacking sleep makes it difficult to concentrate and complete work, which may have you falling behind at work or school. This can lead to higher stress levels and increase your blood pressure, both of which are detrimental to a person’s health.You may find yourself being hungrier than usual, which is your body trying to make up for the lack of energy it’d get from sleeping through food.At nighttime, you’ll find it hard to fall asleep once you’re in bed. If you do manage to fall asleep, you might face frequent disturbances, whether it be needing to use the restroom or police sirens outside your window. However, simple changes can help improve your evenings.Benefits of Prioritizing Good Sleep HygienePracticing good sleep hygiene leads to overall better quality of life. When your brain is getting its much-needed rest, it has the time to recuperate and heal.The health benefits of sleeping well including better weight maintenance and hormonal regulation. This lessens your risk of developing serious health issues, including high blood pressure or diabetes. Sleeping well also strengthens your immune system so you’ll get sick less often.Getting enough sleep is also crucial to healthy growth and development, especially for children going through puberty or pregnant individuals.Additionally, good sleeping habits correlate with better learning capabilities at school or work and a stronger memory. You’ll find yourself thinking more clearly and being more present during the day, as well as being in a better mood in general.No matter what age, everyone benefits from sleeping well.Tips For Practicing Good Sleep HygieneStick to Your Bedtime RoutineBefore getting to bed, prepare your body for sleep by giving yourself a nighttime routine. Put aside 30 to 60 minutes to unwind at night, whether it be taking a warm shower, reading a book, or doing a cleansing skin-care routine. Avoid over-stimulating activities before sleeping as they’ll only make it harder to relax.Consistency is key when developing a good sleep routine. Try to get to bed and wake up at the same time, within 20 or 30 minutes, every day. This includes weekends! Schedule a time to go to bed and wake up that ensures you can get 7 to9 hours of uninterrupted sleep—we suggest using a sleep calculator to determine the best bedtime based on your desired wake up time.Remaining consistent with your sleep schedule can improve your sleep cycle and internal clock, or circadian rhythm. By doing this, your body learns when to release melatonin and when to wake up, making it easier to get enough sleep.If you still aren’t sleeping well, consider writing a sleep diary to track how much and when you’ve been sleeping. By taking this extra step, you can see just how much you’ve really been sleeping and make the necessary changes to get a more regular sleep schedule.Create a Calm Sleeping EnvironmentLoud, bright, and uncomfortable bedrooms can make sleep an even more impossible task. If you can, take the steps to make your bedroom a calm oasis for yourself.Hot summers often lead to uncomfortable, sweaty evenings. Especially if you enjoy sleeping under your comforter, warm evenings can make that difficult. The ideal bedroom temperature for sleep is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, though you can always play with your thermostat to see what works best for your body.If you live in a noisy neighborhood or city, you may struggle to get total peace at night due to outside lights and noises. Using black-out curtains tell your mind when to sleep, and they also keep out light and heat in the morning. To block out noise, keep your windows shut and turn off the TV. If that’s not enough, consider trying out earplugs to help you get to sleep.The discomfort of an old mattress and pillows can strain your body at night and even leave you sore in the morning. Promote a relaxing environment by investing in a supportive mattress and comfortable pillows. By using a mattress fit to meet your body’s needs, you can relieve potential back or joint pain and sleep with less disturbances.Limit Long Daytime NapsAlthough napping can be wonderful, they aren’t a replacement for sleeping at night. A brief midday power nap can be very beneficial when needed. However, long naps, especially later in the evening, can interfere with your overall sleeping pattern. Especially if you experience insomnia, try not using naps to substitute a good night’s rest.Avoid Caffeine and Heavy Meals Before BedAlthough many of us who lack sleep lean heavily on caffeinated treats and beverages, they only make it harder to sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant meant to keep you up for hours, so it’s not really conducive to peaceful sleep.If you still want to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, limit your consumption and enjoy those beverages at least 7 hours before bed.Similarly, meals heavy with sugar, spices, or acids make it hard to sleep at night. They can cause heartburn, indigestion, and leave you feeling overly full. The discomfort from heavy foods makes it harder to relax in bed and sleep. We suggest eating dinner at least three hours before bedtime and incorporating foods to promote better sleep into your dinnertime diet. If you need a late-night snack before bed, keep it light and healthy and choose options such as apples and peanut butter or yogurt and berries.Don’t Use Electronics in BedMany of us tend to use our cellphones or watch TV in bed. It seems like a relaxing way to wind down after a long day, however, it is counter-productive. Screens can keep you awake and make sleeping difficult due to their blue light, which confuses your brain and delays melatonin release.Try putting your electronics away at least 30 minutes before sleeping. Checking emails, playing video games, or scrolling through social media all keep you awake. Leave your phone charging away from your bed, and don’t keep a TV in your bedroom. Instead, try unwinding by reading a book next to a warm-toned light before bed.Exercise Regularly and At Least 3 Hours Before SleepExercising for even just 10 minutes a day can improve a person’s sleep quality and length, as well as being good for your physical and mental health overall. Put aside some time during the day to do a light workout to encourage a better night.While exercise promotes healthy sleep patterns, be sure you aren’t exercising too late in the day. The cortisol and endorphin release from vigorous physical activity can make it harder to fall asleep. If you want to get in some exercise before bed, consider just doing some mild stretching to relax. Otherwise, keep workouts at least three hours before bedtime.Don’t Lay In Bed Awake for Too LongMany of us find ourselves tossing and turning in bed for hours, struggling to get to sleep. Instead of getting frustrated, try not to stay in bed awake for so long. If you find yourself stuck in bed for twenty minutes, get up. Try splashing some cool water on your face or sit down in a chair or couch in a dark room. Practice deep breathing to help relax and get your body tired.If you’re still not tired, consider drinking a glass of non-caffeinated tea or warm water to soothe your body. Although it may be tempting, don’t pull out your phone or turn on the TV during this time, as again, it’ll only wake you up more.Once you’re feeling more relaxed and tired, return to bed and try falling asleep again.Manage Your Stress LevelsOverthinking or being anxious before bed is one of the many culprits to a restless night. While it’s not always possible to fix all your problems before getting to bed, do your best to resolve any issues you can before sleeping or create a plan for future resolution to put your mind at ease.Try writing your thoughts down before sleeping to release any anxiety or stress. In an effort to manage stress levels, stay organized with any tasks you have, and avoid procrastinating. That way, you won’t ruin your sleep worrying the night before an assignment is due at work or school.When To Contact Your DoctorIf you’ve been practicing good sleep hygiene consistently and still struggle to get a good night’s rest, it may be time to reach out to your doctor to discuss other solutions. Insomnia is a burden you don’t need to face alone, and receiving help can make a huge difference in your overall quality of life.ConclusionBased on your current lifestyle, implement sleeping habits that will work well for you. It may seem like a daunting task initially, but even one or two adjustments in your sleep hygiene can improve your sleeping pattern.In order to make positive changes, be honest with yourself in regards to your current sleep pattern and practice good sleep hygiene daily. Better sleep will lead to a better overall living and is one of the best things you can do for your health.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.