What Exactly Is Sleep Hygiene?

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“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 American Academy of Sleep Medicine describes as “a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. These habits are a cornerstone of cognitive-behavioral therapy, the most effective long-term treatment for people with chronic insomnia. ”

Translation: It’s a bunch of things one should and shouldn’t do to make sure an individual 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 work schedule, how much sleep a person typically needs each night, and whether or not the individual suffers from a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Plus, new research continually introduces ideas to promote better sleep. But here are a few of the basic tenets of sleep hygiene we can all try to follow.

Make the bedroom a restful, sleep-promoting place.

When possible, keep the room dark when planning to sleep — people can use blackout curtains or an eye mask if needed. Also use white noise to drown out any distracting sounds, and try to set the room at a cool temperature.

Speaking of temperatures? For those prone to sleeping hot, it might be a good idea to invest in a cooling mattress.

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Related: How To Make Your Room A Sleep Haven

Try sticking to a regular bedtime.

Those able to stick to a nighttime routine will find their bodies naturally learn when it’s time for bed. People should find a bedtime routine that works them and then 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 one works a 9-5 rather than the night shift, that is). Consuming caffeine too late in the day can make it difficult for a person to fall asleep at night. Try cutting off the coffee intake after 2 pm.

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Don’t watch TV, read, or work in bed.

Doing this trains the brain to associate being in bed with being awake and focused. In reality, one wants to only use the bed for sleep and sex.

Related: Binge-Watching TV Is Hurting Your Sleep

Keep the naps short.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people should aim to nap for 10-20 minutes. “The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward.” However, they explain that young adults might be able to tolerate longer naps.

[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 personal health questions come up.]

Featured image: Stock-Asso/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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