What is Sleep Hygiene and Why is It Important?

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Are you one of us who always have trouble sleeping at night? No? Then I envy you. I've always had trouble going to sleep. If you have insomnia like me then maybe it's time that we improve our sleep hygiene, don't you think? In this blog post, I will be discussing the importance of sleep hygiene and what you can do to improve it for a better and more restful sleep at night.

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❀  What is Sleep Hygiene?  ❀

The term "sleep hygiene" is a fairly new one but the concept behind it is an old one. It is just basically a catchall phrase used to describe the techniques and methods you can employ in order to form a healthy sleeping pattern. It could involve limiting your screen time, proper diet and exercise, and many more.

❀  Importance of Sleep  ❀


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Sleep is undoubtedly a very important bodily function that is essential to good health and our overall wellbeing. It also provides our bodies a chance to heal and repair after a long day. Four hours of sleep a night may seem enough now that you are younger but the lack of sleep will soon catch up with you and your health is usually the first one to suffer. You will also experience low energy levels all throughout the day, as well as other health problems. Believe me. I am now paying for depriving my body of enough sleep. You should get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep for a better mental, emotional, and physical health. However, I do realize that it is not always possible, especially for students and office workers who need to pull an all-nighter. If that is the case, just make sure that you get more sleep than sleepless nights.

❀  10 Tips For a Better Sleep Hygiene  ❀

When you can't sleep, lay off the sleeping pills and try some of these useful sleeping tips.

1. Limit your screen time before bedtime


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Watching TV before bedtime is not a very good idea as the light from the screen tricks your mind that it's still daytime. If you cannot help yourself from watching TV then remove it from your bedroom so there will be less temptation. Likewise, mobile devices, gaming consoles, and computers have the same effect. The problems with these devices are that they all use blue light which is the strongest light wavelength perceived by the brain as sunlight. You can also use the same trick as removing them from your room, but who are we kidding? You're not really gonna do that, right? I probably won't either since I make my livelihood using my mobile device and laptop. What we can do is to turn off all the devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Sounds fair? I think so too. You should also avoid checking any of your devices in the middle of the night should you wake up. The light from the devices will only keep you up and it will be much harder for you to get back to sleep.

2. Set and commit to a sleep-wake cycle routine

We all have an internal "clock" that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Many bodily functions, including brain states and temperature, are synchronized to this 24-hour physiological clock. So, you need to work with your body clock and not against it in order to get a good night sleep. 

Just like an alarm clock, we can set a wake-up time by getting up at the same time every day. Following this strict routine, every day can help set your body clock. Soon, you will start feeling sleepy at just about the same time every night. You also shouldn't ignore your body when it tells you that it wants to get some sleep. Likewise, don't force yourself to sleep if you're not tired, at all. This will only enforce bad sleeping habit like lying awake in bed.

3. Expose yourself to natural light every morning


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Another helpful way to set your body clock is to get enough sunshine first thing in the morning. What does getting sunshine have anything to do with falling asleep at night? That was my same question--but, apparently,  our circadian rhythm is closely related to our sleep-wake cycle. By exposing ourselves to as much sunlight in the morning as we can, we are convincing our bodies that daytime is for waking up and nighttime is for sleeping.

To help the body maintain a natural rhythm and balance between light and dark, we should aim to get at least 30 to 60 minutes exposure to natural bright lights during the daytime, and total darkness at night. You can use sleep masks or blackout blinds in your room to help achieve this.

Try to get some exercise along with sunshine in the morning to help energize you for the day. This same technique will help you feel more tired by bedtime.  

4. Use your bed only for sleep

I've heard of this one many times before--although I still find it hard to follow this advice. But it does make sense, doesn't it? By doing nothing else but sleep on our beds, we trick our minds into thinking that once we get on it, it's time to sleep. Some will even go as far as tell you to set boundaries on the usage of your bedroom. But, not all of us have the extra space in our homes for separate lounge rooms and such, so we make do with what we have. So, if you can't set boundaries on your bedroom, at least set one on your bed. You'll soon find yourself drifting off to sleep much faster. 

5. Start and Maintain a Pre-Bedtime Routine


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You can achieve a more regular sleeping pattern by following your own pre-bedtime routine. You can do some light reading, take a hot bath, or simply do your nightly beauty regime. Soon, your body will recognize these set of actions as a prelude to bedtime. This nightly routine will send a signal to your brain that it's almost time for bed. However, there are some activities you may want to exclude from this routine such as watching TV, using your devices, or any other activities that can excite you because it will wake you up even further. You should also avoid snacking as much as possible. 

6. Create a comfortable sleeping environment

A comfortable bedroom is a relaxing one, and a relaxed body is more likely to fall asleep soon. To help achieve the level of comfort you need in your bedroom, you should invest in a good mattress that is neither too soft or too hard. You should also make sure that the room temperature is just right--based on your preferences, of course. Who can sleep if it's too hot or too cold, anyway? Another thing you need to do is keep the room quiet and dark enough. Light is detrimental to a good night sleep and, well, do I really need to explain what noise does to us when we're trying to sleep? And while you're at it--if you feel more comfortable sleeping in the buff, go ahead and strip naked. Well, except when you have a roommate. You don't want to traumatize them, right?

7. Avoid large meals before bedtime

Okay, I'm not telling you to not eat dinner. Going to bed on an empty stomach is not a pleasant experience. You'll probably end up sleepless that way. Trust me. I've tried this before. Darn those diet fads! What you can do is have dinner several hours before bedtime. And if you must snack close to bedtime, eat foods that help you sleep. Such foods include oats, nuts, yogurt, milk, cherries, and bananas. Although there are lots of foods you can eat before sleeping, keep everything in moderation. Large meals can make you feel sleepy, but it can also disrupt your sleep a few hours later. Furthermore, sleeping right after a large meal can trigger acid reflux in people who suffer from this condition. You should also limit your liquid intake at night. I'm sure you don't want to keep waking up every few hours to go to the restroom, right?

8. Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime.


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We all know what caffeine does to our bodies, so we must avoid it just before bedtime. Alcohol, on the other hand, may make you feel drowsy at first, but it will cause you to wake up several times at night, preventing you from entering REM and deep sleep. Nicotine can also disrupt sleep, so you should avoid it at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. But, you know what? Just avoid it forever and you will not only get more sleep but also become healthier.

9. Follow sleep-promoting Daytime habits


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For better rest at night, you should also learn to develop sleep-promoting daytime activities. First, you need to limit your daytime naps. Although napping can help boost your energy at work, getting too much will make it harder for you to sleep at night. Exercise is also a good way to energize your body in the morning, so you can feel tired enough come nighttime. However, it's important to note that you should avoid exercising so close to bedtime.

10. Relax Your Mind


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If you're like me, your brain starts to race at 1 million km/h the minute you lay your head on top of your pillow. Don't force yourself to sleep. Don't concentrate on falling asleep, either. Chances are you'll end up more awake than you started. Why not think of something that comforts and relaxes you? I, myself, think of the ocean. For me, the waves the ocean creates is the most relaxing thing in the world. if that doesn't work, try doing some relaxing exercises like progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing.

❀  Final Thoughts  ❀

You shouldn't always use sleeping pills to help you get some sleep. If you do, you will end up relying on this drug every time you need to sleep which is not very healthy. You should only use them when your doctor tells you to.

If you've tried all of these tips and you are still having a hard time sleeping then maybe it's time to visit sleep experts.

Before you go, here's a Querlo chat survey for you. Please do take time and answer.




Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day ahead of you and keep smiling. :)

Written by Chineyes for bitLanders

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About the author


A software tester by profession, a mother by heart, and a writer by passion.

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