What is sleep hygiene you ask? Well simply put, it’s a series of practices you can use to ensure quality nighttime sleep. We often forget that our quality of sleep is based on several factors that are within our control. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation states that the most important factor to a good night’s sleep is maintaining a regular wake and sleep pattern. This way you’re training your body to know when to wind down for the day.
Many sleep hygiene practices involve both avoiding common obstacles to sleep and creating an atmosphere that invites sleepiness.
Some common obstacles to quality nighttime sleep are:
- Stimulants - it’s best to lay off the caffeine (including chocolate), nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime.
- Screens - set an electronic curfew! You should be avoiding any type of screen at least one hour before bedtime.
- Late Meals - large meals right before bedtime, especially spicy foods, can be disruptive to sleep
Daytime practices that promote good sleep:
- Exercise - it’s best to keep more vigorous, aerobic activities limited to earlier in the day and save relaxing yoga stretches for before bedtime.
- Get out in the sunshine - adequate exposure to natural light helps maintain a healthy sleep cycle and vitamin D is great for you!
- Sleep Space - make sure your bed is cozy, your room is a comfortable temperature with good circulation, and try to avoid using your bed for work, studying, etc… so that your mind associates it with sleeping.
This is just a few examples of sleep hygiene, but you can find more information on how to create a good bedtime routine at any age here.