If being tired 24/7 sums up your life right now, this blog might just be the one for you. If you’re neither an early bird, nor a night owl, but rather an exhausted pigeon sounds more like your spirit animal in recent weeks or months, keep reading…
What is Sleep Hygiene?
(And the answer is not how clean your 1000 thread count Egyptian cotton bed sheets are….)
Sleep Hygiene: “the behavioural habits and practices that are conducive to promoting better quality sleep on a regular basis” –
Why is Sleep Hygiene important?
As someone who frequently struggles with their sleep, I’ve been doing a bit of research into sleep habits and how we can sleep better. Don’t worry, we won’t be delving too far into how many minutes of REM sleep (sleep phase of rapid eye movement) is optimal for each individual, or the ins and outs of sleep paralysis, but the basics in how to get a better night’s kip!
Sleep hygiene is more commonly referred to as your ‘Bedtime Routine’. Something babies usually have, but as we grow up these tend to fade. If working late staring at your laptop, binge watching the latest Netflix series, gaming until the sun comes up or perhaps getting got lost in a Youtube black hole on the creation of the universe sound familiar, perhaps you need to clean up your sleep hygiene, as these behaviours often disrupt our sleep.
Why Do We Need Sleep?
Sleep plays vital roles in our health. Continued deprivation of good quality sleep doesn’t just make you grumpy in the mornings, it can decrease your performance at work, affect your mental health, put strain on your body’s immunity and can increase your risk of some medical conditions such as heart disease. It is recommended we need 6-9 hours sleep as an adult each night.
I am no sleep expert and I’m definitely not a psychiatrist, nor a doctor, but I can talk from my experience and what I’ve found can help…..
Research shows it’s not only the amount of sleep, but also the quality of undisturbed sleep that is important. – there are different stages of sleep and if this cycle is constantly interrupted this can lead to poor sleep quality.
10 tips for better sleep hygiene
1. Routine – habits, habits, habits. Our brain thrives off them. Manipulate your brain and make positive habits associated to bedtime. (Such as the ones below…!)
2. Screen time – Screens give out something called blue light. Exposure to blue light is not only bad for our sleep, but our circadian rhythms (aka our internal 24hr body clock), so shut that laptop and put down your phone before bed!
3. Caffeine – a well known stimulant that has a significant effect on sleep disturbance. If you’re struggling with your sleep, try avoiding caffeinated drinks before bed. (I personally only have my coffee’s in the morning – and remember tea is also caffeinated!)
4. Exercise – promotes a more restful night sleep. Exercise increases your time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative phase. This phase helps to boost your immune function, support heart health, and regulate stress and anxiety. Exercise also helps with energy balance and weight control. Obesity can be related to something called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, which affects your breathing during your sleep, causing disturbances.
5. Yoga – definitely something that works for me; yoga helps to calm the mind and body, reduce stress and anxiety and relax the nervous system. Built into a calming nighttime routine, it can provide a perfect way to improve your sleep hygiene!
6. Tea – whether it’s mint tea, fruit tea or my current favourite; dreamtime tea from Whittards (vanilla, honey and apricot mmhmmm!) there’s nothing better than sitting down to relax with a cuppa! (just make sure it’s not caffeinated!)
7. Napping – I personally save my snoozing for bedtime, as napping means I struggle to fall asleep at a reasonable time! -However, if you’ve got your napping skills down to a T carry on! Everything is individual, so do what works for you!
8. Thoughts – if as you hit your pillow, tomorrow’s to-do list goes round and round in your head- grab a notepad and write it down, so it doesn’t keep playing on your mind. Similarly, if you have something more momentous than picking up some milk after work playing on your mind, talk to someone about it – stress and anxiety do not bode well for a good nights sleep!
9. Nutrition – I’m not talking old wives tales like cheese giving you nightmares. As always, a healthy balanced diet is the way forward. Get your basics sorted before looking too deep into specific nutrients and sleep.
10. Bed = for sleeping – the most obvious, but simple tip saved for last. Try to avoid watching TV or working in your bedroom if possible. Building strong associations with your bed to sleeping is really important in creating the routine and perfect sleep environment that will improve your SLEEP HYGIENE and therefore hopefully a more restful, better quality and sufficient nights sleep that I’ve been banging on about!
I think that is more than enough info for one blog – if you have any other suggestions or if you find any interesting research on sleep let me know below!
Love J xoxo