What is Sleep Hygiene?

sleep hygiene

Sleep is an essential bodily function that allows our systems to recoup and recover from a day’s work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults receive at least 7 hours of sleep every night. However, only about 1 in 3 adults is meeting this benchmark regularly. Lack of sleep is caused by various factors, including overall health, diet, mental health, and the activities you choose to partake in. Sleep hygiene minimizes nightly interruptions, helping you sleep deeper and longer. With just a few changes in your schedule and lifestyle, you, too, can experience the benefits of good sleep hygiene.

Understanding Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a behavioral practice for developing good habits surrounding sleep schedules, producing a higher-quality night’s sleep. Studies show that nearly everything we do in a day, from what food we eat for dinner to what time we wake up in the morning, can directly impact our ability to sleep at night. Too much caffeine, insufficient exercise, and overuse of screens can contribute to poor, interrupted sleep, leading to over-exhaustion if not taken care of early. 

Sleep hygiene refers to a set of principles that promote good, solid sleep. These principles seek to regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythms and promote relaxation, allowing the body to fall and stay asleep more readily. By using proper sleep hygiene practices, individuals can feel more rested and ready to take on their day.

Sleep Hygiene Habits: Giving You A Good Night’s Sleep Every Night

Though everyone’s sleep needs differ, several habits and principles can make a difference when it comes to getting to and staying asleep. While developing better habits and routines may take some time, the reward is well worth the effort. Here are some tips to help get you started!

1. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Your body has an internal clock that tells you when it’s time to wake up and go to sleep. A consistent sleep schedule is essential for your body because it helps set your clock. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on the weekends) will help get your body used to that routine. Eventually, your body will naturally get tired and wake up at these times, reducing the number of times you need to click the snooze button.

2. Begin Winding Down Early

Just like a runner has a cooldown job after their run, you should have a cooldown time after your day. Avoid going straight from the hustle and bustle of your day to bed. This can cause your mind (and body) to keep racing, limiting your ability to fall asleep. Set a routine for yourself each night that helps you unwind and relax. Activities like taking a shower, reading a book, and doing evening yoga can help you unwind before bed. 

3. Unplug at Least an Hour Before Bed

Limiting your screen time is an effective way to improve your sleep hygiene. Studies have shown that the blue light that devices emit can decrease your body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is the “sleepy hormone” that helps you feel tired and stay asleep. Reductions in melatonin levels at bedtime will keep you up later. Avoid using your phone or watching TV as part of your bedtime routine.

4. Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is essential to maintaining your overall health, including your sleep health. A healthy body has an easier time setting its circadian rhythm. If your day is packed, there are exercises you can do from your work desk, but if possible, try exercising outside. Sunshine and fresh air are another great way to help your body since natural light will help regulate your sleep cycle.

Try not to exercise within 2 hours of going to bed. Elevating your heart rate will make it harder to relax and sleep.

5. Avoid Excessive Caffeine

Caffeine can affect you 3-7 hours after consumption, so avoiding coffee, caffeinated tea, and other energy drinks past 3 PM can help you sleep better at night. This enables you to get to sleep and stay asleep and will also help you feel more rested, reducing your reliance on caffeine.

6. Manage stress

With over 76% of Americans experiencing stress that affects their physical health, it’s no wonder so many people have a hard time sleeping. Stress management is essential to getting a good night’s sleep. However, removing all sources of stress from our lives is an unreasonable expectation. Finding stress management techniques that work for you will help you sleep better and live healthier lives. Some stress management techniques include:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Going for walks
  • Listening to music
  • Journaling
  • Talking to a friend

If your stress feels unmanageable, it may be time to seek professional help.

While many factors can contribute to poor sleep hygiene, following the above tips is a great way to develop better habits and sleep routines. Once you’ve made good sleep hygiene a part of your daily life, you will experience the many benefits of a good night’s sleep!

How Can We Help?

Work Health Solutions offers comprehensive healthcare solutions for your medical needs. Our qualified team treats patients and employers alike and always provides top-quality service. Our quality service is backed by years of experience working with academic and research institutions, corporate healthcare, Fortune 25 companies, small government, and local businesses. Reach out today with any questions about how we can assist you.

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A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

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