The Importance of Sleep Hygiene: What You Need to Know
We’ve all heard the phrase “you snooze, you lose,” but what if I told you that the opposite is actually true? In fact, consistently getting a good night’s rest can be the key to success in both your personal and professional life.
But sleeping well isn’t only defined by getting enough hours of shut-eye – there’s a lot more to it than that. That’s where your sleep hygiene comes in.
That’s right, in addition to dental hygiene (how you care for your teeth and mouth) and personal hygiene (how well you keep yourself fresh, clean, and groomed) sleep hygiene is a thing.
In this post, we’re going to crash into the world of sleep hygiene and explore everything you need to know so you can get the most out of your nightly slumber.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to all your habits, practices, and things you do daily that may (or may not) promote quality sleep.
Good sleep hygiene includes:
Having a consistent bedtime routine
Making your bedroom an environment that’s conducive to sleep
Avoiding bright lights, electronics, caffeine, and alcohol before bed
All of these things promote a great night’s sleep so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive in daily life.
Why is Sleep Hygiene Important?
Having good sleep hygiene will allow your body to rest and recharge properly after a long day of work or activity.
And it’s essential for maintaining physical health, emotional well-being, and tip-top cognitive function.
By practicing good sleep hygiene regularly, you should notice both after waking and throughout the day:
Your mood is better.
You have more energy.
You’re sharper and more productive.
To get the maximum benefits from sleep, it’s important to establish and stay consistent with good sleep hygiene practices.
How Can Good Sleep Hygiene Impact Sleep?
Once you take the steps to improve your sleep hygiene your sleep quality should also improve significantly. That means deeper sleep for longer.
And while deeper sleep can improve your overall health and well-being, during the day you’ll feel more rested and rejuvenated.
By establishing a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine, you can signal to your body that it’s time to wind down for the night.
Good sleep hygiene may also help combat conditions that cause poor sleep like insomnia or snoring.
If you don’t get enough restorative sleep, you may be at risk for diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (1).
What Would Be Considered Poor Sleep Hygiene?
Poor sleep hygiene refers to all your bad habits and behaviors that can negatively impact the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Not prioritizing sleep hygiene can lead to:
Difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Not feeling rested upon waking.
Increased stress levels, anxiety, and depression.
Sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
Identify your poor sleep hygiene habits and work on changing them gradually.
Some common examples of poor sleep hygiene include:
Having an irregular sleep schedule.
Consuming caffeine or alcohol before or close to bedtime.
Using electronic devices in bed.
Having a cluttered, uncomfortable sleep environment.
Having a bedroom that is too bright or exposes you to light while sleeping.
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine, creating a relaxing sleep environment, and avoiding stimulating activities before bed can make a big difference in your ability to get a good night’s rest.
The Effects of Poor Sleep Hygiene on Your Health and Well-being
1. It Can Increase Your Risk of Chronic Health Conditions
Years of poor sleep can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance, leading to insulin resistance and increased inflammation. In fact, poor sleep has been linked with 7 of the top 15 leading causes of death in the U.S. including chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. (2)
2. It Can Negatively Impact Your Mental Health and Cognitive Functioning
We all know that even one night of poor sleep can make you irritable and no fun to be around. And that’s because without sleep the brain doesn’t have time to rest and repair.
But studies have shown that people who consistently get less than 6 hours of sleep per night are more likely to develop mood disorders and make it difficult to concentrate and remember or learn new things (3). It can also affect your ability to make good decisions.
Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and even dementia (4).
3. Impaired Immune System and Increased Susceptibility to Illness
When you don’t prioritize sleep hygiene, your immune system can suffer. Poor sleep quality and duration can lead to an impaired immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses such as the common cold or flu (5).
Research has shown that people who get less than seven hours of sleep per night are three times more likely to develop a cold than those who get eight or more hours of sleep (6).
Additionally, lack of sleep can also affect the body’s ability to produce antibodies in response to vaccinations, reducing their effectiveness (7).
It’s crucial to prioritize good sleep hygiene to keep your immune system functioning at its best.
4. Negative Effects on Physical Appearance and Aging Process
We’ve all had someone tell us that we “look tired.” And it’s not exactly a compliment. Lack of sleep can lead to dark circles under the eyes, and dry and dull skin, which can enhance fine lines, and deepen wrinkles.
Studies have also shown that poor sleep quality is associated with increased inflammation in the body, which is associated with accelerated aging at a cellular level (8).
A UCLA study uncovered that even one night of insufficient sleep can accelerate the aging of cells in older adults (9).
Inadequate rest has also been linked to decreased collagen production – the protein responsible for keeping our skin looking youthful, bouncy, and firm (10).
Common Myths About Sleep Hygiene Debunked
Myth #1: “I can catch up on sleep over the weekend.”
One of the biggest myths about sleep hygiene is that you can make up for lost hours of sleep during the week by sleeping in over the weekend. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Research has shown that catching up on missed sleep over one or two days, which experts call “sleep debt,” won’t fully restore cognitive function, reaction time, or physical performance.
A 2016 study published in Scientific Reports estimated that for every hour of sleep missed, you’ll need seven to nine hours of quality sleep 4 nights in a row to fully recuperate (11).
Furthermore, an irregular sleeping schedule increases your risk of developing chronic health problems such as obesity and diabetes.
To combat this myth, it’s important to establish a regular bedtime routine and stick to it every day of the week – even on weekends.
Myth #2: “Alcohol helps me sleep better.”
One of the most common myths is that alcohol can help you sleep better. While it’s true that alcohol can make you feel drowsy and help you fall asleep faster, it actually disrupts your sleep later in the night.
Alcohol reduces the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is essential for restoring your body and brain cells (12). Alcohol can also increase the likelihood of snoring and sleep apnea, which can further disrupt your sleep.
Relying on alcohol to fall asleep is not a healthy or sustainable solution for good sleep hygiene.
Myth #3: “I don’t need a consistent sleep schedule.”
Our bodies thrive on routine and having a consistent sleep schedule helps regulate our internal clock or circadian rhythm. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Inconsistent sleep schedules can lead to difficulty falling asleep, poor quality of sleep, and daytime fatigue (13). It’s important to prioritize a consistent sleep schedule as part of your overall sleep hygiene routine for optimal health and well-being.
Myth #4: “Watching TV or using my phone in bed is relaxing.”
The blue light emitted by electronic devices can disrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep (14). This can make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Additionally, watching TV or scrolling through social media can be mentally stimulating, making it harder for your brain to wind down and prepare for sleep.
To improve your sleep hygiene, try avoiding electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime and opt for relaxing activities like reading or journaling instead.
Tips for Improving Your Sleep Hygiene: A Quick Guide to the Best Habits for Great Sleep
Developing good sleep hygiene is essential for improving the quality and quantity of your sleep.
And you may have to make adjustments to lighting, temperature, or noise levels in your bedroom.
Maintaining good sleep hygiene is crucial for getting quality sleep and improving overall health. Here are some tips to help you maintain good sleep hygiene:
1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day: This includes weekends. Consistently going to bed at the same time can help train your body to recognize when it’s time for sleep.
2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine: A bedtime routine is a set of activities you perform in the same order, every night, in the 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed.
Bedtime routines can vary according to personal preferences, but often include calming activities like taking a warm bath, reading, journaling, or meditation. You can also stretch lightly, do yoga, meditate, or listen to calming music.
A combination of these relaxing tasks is wonderful too.
3. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows: Comfortable bedding can make all the difference in getting a good night’s rest. Opt for natural fibers that wick away moisture and help regulate body temperature.
4. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet: Use blackout curtains or a sleep mask, earplugs, and/or white noise, or sound machine if necessary.
We love this one for both going creating a sleep routine and making waking up easier.
Sleep experts recommend keeping the temperature of your bedroom between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) is best for sleep.
5. Try aromatherapy: Essential oils like lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, vetiver, and valerian all have sleep-promoting properties.
Add them to a diffuser in your bedroom or a tiny drop into your favorite body moisturizer and apply them directly to the skin.
You can also make or buy a relaxing linen spray to get those heavenly deep sleep-promoting scents.
5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime: These substances can disrupt your sleep. Some health experts and doctors believe you should avoid caffeine for 3 to 7 hours before going to sleep.
Consider skipping caffeine later in the day if you consume it often but have trouble sleeping.
6. Avoid screen time an hour before bed: Read a book instead. Opt for calming subjects (hobbies, nature, cooking, self-help, etc.) that won’t upset or excite you. Journaling or making lists can help clear your mind of things that are bothering you or to-do’s you have the next day.
7. Exercise regularly: Regular daily exercise will help tire you out but it will also reduce stress hormones that may interfere with your ability to get restful sleep. Avoid high-intensity or strenuous activity too close to bedtime. Stretching or restorative yoga before bed is ideal.
8. Manage stress: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to help reduce stress levels before bed.
By following these tips and making good sleep hygiene a priority, you can improve the quality of your sleep and overall well-being.
Get more healthy sleep tips: 14 Ways to Sleep Better Naturally
Developing good sleep hygiene takes discipline, consistency, and commitment. But by gradually implementing these practices, you’ll start sleeping better and feeling more refreshed and energized each morning.
If you find developing good habits around sleep difficult, consider enlisting the help of a health professional who specializes in treating insomnia or other conditions related to poor sleep. They can help optimize your sleeping habits or diagnosis if there’s a deeper issue that may be preventing you from getting restorative sleep.
Sleep hygiene is crucial for maintaining good health and well-being.
By developing good sleep habits and sticking to a consistent routine, you can improve the quality of your sleep and reduce the risk of developing sleep disorders.
Remember that it’s not just about getting enough sleep, but also about creating an environment that promotes relaxation and restfulness.
Some key habits to incorporate into your sleep hygiene routine include setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a comfortable sleep environment.
With these tips in mind, you can start improving your sleep hygiene today and enjoy the benefits of better sleep.
Who benefits from improving sleep hygiene?
Anyone who wants to improve their sleep quality.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to habits that promote good sleep.
How can I improve my sleep hygiene?
By maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine and screens before bed.
But what if I can’t fall asleep even with good sleep hygiene?
Consider talking to a healthcare professional about potential underlying issues.
Who should prioritize sleep hygiene?
Anyone who wants to improve their overall health and well-being.
What are some common sleep hygiene practices?
Keeping a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing and sleep-friendly bedtime routine.