What is “sleep hygiene” and why does it matter?

By Barrett White

Paying attention to the quality and quantity of rest you get is a major key to good overall health.

 

Do you wake up each morning feeling exhausted, or have trouble falling asleep in the first place? There are plenty of reasons your sleep might be out of whack, but don’t worry – there are also plenty of ways to fix that!

“Sleep hygiene is determined by both the environment we sleep in and the habits we form, and the quality and quantity of sleep it produces can have far-reaching effects on our overall health,” says Dr. Vandana Shrikanth, Medical Director of Specialty Services at Legacy Community Health. “Following healthy sleep habits can mean the difference between insomnia and a peaceful night of rest.”

 

Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed at roughly the same time each night and waking up at roughly the same time each morning can help to adjust your body’s internal clock.

Get some fresh air. Try cracking a window (if the weather is nice, and if you feel safe doing so), or consider an air purifier for your bedroom.

Turn that bedroom into a cocoon. For the best night’s sleep, make your bedroom into the most comfortable room in the house. Switch the air conditioning down to a comfortable temperature and turn off the TV and any lights in the room. White noise like a white noise machine or a fan could be helpful, too.

Avoid stimulants in the afternoon and evening. Of course, we all know that coffee will keep us awake. But keep in mind that sodas and teas have caffeine, too. Other things that contain stimulants that might affect our ability to sleep include cigarettes and certain medications. If you believe that a medication might be affecting your ability to sleep, please consult your provider.

Try to avoid naps. Naps feel so good when you didn’t get enough rest the night before, but if you get yourself on a regular sleep schedule you’ll find that you don’t need those midday naps anymore. Taking naps when you don’t need them can then make it difficult to fall asleep that evening, disturbing your sleep schedule all over again.

Sleep in bed! Watching television, scrolling on your phone, or even reading can make your mind subconsciously associate your bed with wakefulness. Get your doomscrolling, favorite true crime documentaries, and page-turners out of the way before heading to the bedroom. When you get into bed at night, try to quiet your mind and drift into sleep.

And lastly, come up with a bedtime routine that promotes self-care and relaxation. Nothing feels more relaxing after a long shift at work or a busy day out than running a warm bath or taking a steamy shower. Dry off and apply your skincare routine. Meditate, journal, or read for a bit – you know, quite time to yourself. Some people might listen to ASMR while relaxing their body and mind before bed.

 

If you’re working on your sleep hygiene and can’t hit all of these suggestions, that’s okay! Focusing on getting enough rest one step at a time is still a step in the right direction. If you feel as though you can’t get your sleep on track, consult your Legacy provider for more information. To schedule an appointment, please visit us online or call (832) 548-5000.