What is sleep hygiene ? Sleep is essential for health, well being and survival. Most healthy people spend about a third of the day sleeping which means we spend about one third of our life in the bed. WHY? Isn’t it just a waste of time? Scientists discovered that people can survive longer without food than without sleep. Sleep gives the body a rest and allows it to prepare for the next day. How much sleep is enough and how much sleep you need? While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need about 6-9 hours sleep per day.
So, it is necessary to sleep every day long enough and deep enough. “Sleep Hygiene” is a definitions and/or complex of elements or factors which have influence at our sleep. Actually the “sleep hygiene” is how well we sleep.
According to Wikipedia, sleep hygiene can be defined as the controlling of “all behavioral and environmental factors that precede sleep and may interfere with sleep.”
It is the practice of following guidelines in an attempt to ensure more restful, effective sleep which can promote daytime alertness and help treat or avoid certain kinds of sleep disorders.
Well respected sleep hygiene can help you stay healthy by keeping your mind and body rested and strong. Sleep Hygiene is essential for deep and restorative healthy sleep.
Elements of sleep hygiene could be different for different women. Some women prefer to sleep in full silence and others could sleep with music. Some women can sleep only with favorite pillow, and others can sleep in any bed. Some women sleep only in darkness and others can sleep easily during day time. The main principle of personal sleep hygiene is to avoid all enemies of your restful sleep. You can experiment and discover the best personal sleep-promoting elements and techniques (sleep time, sleep environment, sleep place, etc.)
SLEEP HYGIENE components
Your personal “circadian rhythm” (your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle) is crucial for sleep hygiene and regular sleep schedule is important for healthy circadian rhythm.
SLEEP HYGIENE – what should be done
Develop and maintain a regular sleep routine
Set bedtime and go to bed at the same time – choose a time when you normally feel tired. Try to wake up at the same time. It will help to keep your healthy circadian rhythm – if you are getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm.
If you keep a regular sleep schedule (going to bed and getting up at the same time every day), you will feel much more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. Be consistent in your sleep routine. Keep your sleep schedule even on weekends and holidays.
Full not interrupted night sleep is very important – get regularly enough sleep (about 6-9 hours) so that you feel well-rested every morning.
If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, then get out of the bed.
It is not healthy to stay in bed awake for long without being able to sleep. Find something else to do that will make you feel relaxed or develop your personal pre-sleep relaxation routine (reading, listening music, warm bath, shower, meditation, etc.). If you feel stressed and/or worried during the middle of the night – get out of your bed and sit in darkness. No TV or internet during these periods! Warm aromatized bath or shower could be a good solution for relaxation. Once you feel sleepy again – go back to bed.
Schedule all expected stressful or difficult meetings before 6pm
Business should be done mainly before 6pm. If you are expecting difficult discussions or stressful situations, never plan it for evening time. All your worries should be solved before evening. Best time for difficult meetings is morning or after lunch.
Keep your bedroom quiet, comfortable, dark and cool.
Always choose very comfortable bed and use it only for sleeping. Choose best sleep pillows. Remove all noisy items from your bedroom (TV, computer, clock, etc.).
Keep next to your bed some sleep accessories (sleep mask, ear plugs, etc.) – so you can use it if needed (in case of partner’s snoring, unexpected street light or noises, etc.).
Set your bedroom thermostat at a comfortable temperature – keep your bedroom cool (a little cooler is better than a little warmer).
Light in bedroom should not be bright. During sleep your bedroom should be dark. Keep your pets outside the bedroom.
Develop your personal schedule for naps
Avoid naps if possible because naps can create problems for your natural circadian rhythms. Every person needs a certain amount of sleep per day (about 6-9 hours) but not more. If you take nap during day, you decrease the amount of sleep that you need during night – it could trigger sleep disturbances.
Sometimes you could need some nap make up for lost sleep (if you work at night, was invited for emergency situations, etc.). Your nap should be as long as you missed during previous night (not more!). This strategy allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural circadian rhythm.
Healthy lifestyle is very important for healthy sleep. Regular exercises keep you feet and loosing energy during exercises is good for body preparations for relaxation – exercises promote continuous sleep. Exercise regularly but better do it before 2-3pm.
Avoid intensive rigorous exercises at late evening time (before bedtime). Intensive rigorous exercises trigger endorphin production which could cause difficulty initiating sleep.
It is important to remember that physical activities could promote sleep cycle – but not within few hours before bedtime.
Fight after–dinner drowsiness.
Sometimes after dinner you can feel sleepy. If you find yourself sleepy just after dinner, just get off the divan and do some activities (washing, cleaning, ironing, calling friends, etc.). No sleep after dinner!
Sleep hygiene – what should be avoided
Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy;
Avoid naps during day (even if it is needed, never take nap after 3 pm);
NO work in the bed (no laptop, no calculator, no working accessories);
Avoid coffee and products with caffeine (tea, soda) in late afternoon;
Never eat or play games (cards, intellectual exercises) in the bed;
Don’t watch TV or talk on the phone in the bed;
Avoid alcohol within six hours of your bedtime;
No cigarettes and/or any other source of nicotine before bedtime;
Never go to bed hungry and/or thirsty;
Avoid large meals close to your bedtime;
Avoid intensive exercises within 4-5 hours of your bedtime;
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.