“Sleep hygiene” is one of those buzzy phrases everyone is talking about. But what does it actually mean?
Sleep hygiene is a set of behaviors that the National Sleep Foundation describes as “practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.”
Translation: It’s a bunch of things you should and shouldn’t do to make sure you are getting adequate sleep, and enough energy during the day.
Sounds sensible, right? The recommended practices can vary from person to person, depending on things like your work schedule, how much sleep you typically need each night, and whether or not you suffer from a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Plus, new research continually introduces ideas to help you get better sleep. But here are a few of the basic tenets of sleep hygiene we can all try to follow.
Make your bedroom a restful, sleep-promoting place.
When possible, keep your room dark when you plan to be sleeping — you can use blackout curtains or an eye mask if you need to. Also use white noise to drown out any distracting sounds, and try to set the room at a cool temperature.
Speaking of temperatures? If you’re prone to sleeping hot, it might be a good idea to invest in a cooling mattress.
Try sticking to a regular bedtime.
If you’re able to stick to a nighttime routine, your body will naturally learn when it’s time for bed. Find a bedtime routine that works for you, and try to go to bed — and wake up — at the same time every day.
Avoid consuming too much caffeine.
Everyone processes caffeine differently, but experts recommend avoiding caffeine during the late afternoon and evening (assuming you work a 9-5 rather than the night shift, that is). Consuming caffeine too late in the day can make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night. Try cutting yourself off from the coffee machine after 2 pm.
Don’t watch TV, read, or work in bed.
Doing this trains your brain to associate being in bed with being awake and focused. In reality, you want to only use your bed for sleep and sex.
And if you’re going to nap, keep it short.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should aim to nap for 20-30 minutes. “This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep,” they explain.
[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]
Featured image: Stock-Asso/Shutterstock
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