Is your sleep hygiene on point?

Is your sleep hygiene on point?


Clean sheets, dimmed lights, a blackout curtain and maybe a few drops of essential oil into the diffuser to prepare for a goodnight's sleep. But is that all when it comes to explaining what is practicing proper sleep hygiene? How can we co-relate sleep hygiene with sleep habits and how does our daily activities plays a part in ensuring we are practicing proper sleep hygiene? Well, let us find out in this article.

The Difference Between Sleep Hygiene and Sleep Habits 

Before we move on deeper to discuss about the correlations, let us first understand sleep hygiene and sleep habits individually. 

Sleep hygiene refers to a set of practices and environmental factors that contribute to good sleep quality. These practices encompass a broader range of considerations, including the sleep environment, bedtime routines, and lifestyle choices that impact sleep. Sleep hygiene involves creating optimal conditions for sleep, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, managing light and noise in the bedroom, and avoiding stimulants before bedtime.

On the other hand, Sleep habits are specific behaviors or routines that individuals engage in regularly as part of their sleep patterns. These can be elements of sleep hygiene but are more focused on the individual actions and routines. some examples of sleep habits include winding down with a book before bed, practicing relaxation techniques, using a specific pillow or sleep position, or having a particular pre-sleep ritual.

The Good Sleep Hygiene Practices

Here's a summarised list of good hygiene practices that we could all take baby steps to adapt:

Setting a consistent sleep schedule

a weekly schedule
For starters with very irregular sleep schedule, we would recommend a 3 day straight consistent sleep schedule every week. Begin with planning your activity schedule and by setting a cut off time for work or night out events, and setting your sleep and wake-up time to be consistent, ensuring you have at least 6 hours of sleep. And once we have established the 3 days fixed schedule, we can now add on another day and then another. We recommend a 5 days consistent sleep schedule weekly.

For individuals whose work requires the switch between shifts, a planned work schedule to ensure you achieve at least a 3 days consistent sleep and wake hours would be sufficient. While a 3-day consistent sleep schedule might provide some benefits, aiming for a more extended period of consistency in sleep patterns, especially within your work schedule, is likely to yield better results in terms of sleep quality, overall health, and adaptation to shift work-related challenges.

Developing a Bedtime Routine

sleep mask, a warm glass of milk indicating sleep routine
Having a bedtime routine is just like having another hobby, a bedtime routine could be a single or a set of activities we practice to help us wind down and prepare our mind and body for bedtime. Some examples of a bedtime routine includes taking a warm shower or bath, reading a physical book, relaxation workout like yoga in bed or breathing exercise, listening to soft music and some aromatherapy. 

Avoid excessive workout or over practicing these bedtime activities as it may lead to overstimulation of our mind which might cause a reverse effect on our sleep. It is recommended to start with just 15 minutes and slowly increasing the threshold to nothing more than 30 minutes. 

Setting a consistent sleep schedule

workout gear
Exercising not only boosts our metabolism and keeps us healthy, having a routine workout can also elevate your mood, reduce stress and release tension and excessive energy we have left in the day. Just like developing your sleep routine, selecting a workout you enjoy doing can help you stay sustainable and motivated for a long run. Some enjoyable workout includes dancing, pilates and bouldering.

While working out helps with better sleep quality, it is not advisable to have strenuous workouts like weight lifting, HIIT, sprinting / running before bed time as this activities increases our heart rate which makes it harder for your body to relax. If you are into higher intensity workout, try doing so in the day or completing these workout routines at least 3 hours before your scheduled bedtime. 


Your Bedroom Plays a Part Too...
a comfortable bedroom in warm light setting

Ensuring the environment you're sleeping in is conducive is the key to practicing good sleeping hygiene.  This involves having clean and comfortable mattress and pillows, controlling the temperature (usually cooler is better), minimizing noise, and keeping the room dark or using sleep masks. With these bedroom essentials, you are almost ready to fall into deep sleep. 

The Good Sleeping Habits

Implementing good sleeping habits consistently can significantly improve your sleep quality and overall well-being. Experiment with different habits to find what works best for you and your sleep patterns.

Starting With Your Diet
image of a balanced diet

The type of food, the timing, as well as the portion we eat affects our sleep quality and hygiene, some with almost immediate effect while others creates either positive or negative impact overtime. 
Similar to caffeine, food that are high in salt, sugar and oil content disrupts our cognitive and digestive system especially when consumed nearing sleep hours.  These food, in one way or another, causes digestive discomfort, making it difficult for us to fall asleep easily. 

It its also advisable to not consume heavy meals at least 3 hours before your scheduled sleep time as our body digest food at optimal while we are awake and the process of digestion slows down while we are asleep.

Time To Practice Some Mindfulness 
stones stacked on top of one another along the seaside

Mindfulness is not just about finding ways to destress but also to listen to your body and knowing when to rest. Mindfulness practices can significantly impact sleep quality and overall sleep patterns. Incorporating mindfulness techniques into your routine can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and create a conducive environment for better sleep. Other mindfulness exercise like light yoga or stretching can help with better alignment of our body posture, relieving body tension and pressure before bedtime, helping you soothe the discomfort you feel while lying down preparing for sleep.  

The Tip To Practicing Good Sleeping
Hygiene and Habits
lady sleeping soundly in bed

While there's no fast or express method to a quality sleep, a scheduled or a milestone sleep plan is definitely recommended. By starting small and setting realistic sleep quality goals that you can achieve and slowly adapt and attune to rather than putting them into action all at once. After all, our sleep quality is a form of lifetime investment and we definitely would want a sustainable result than it being a short-term remedy. 

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