Many people across the globe struggle to sleep. Some are reliant on CPAP medical technology and others are just stressed. While most of us take care to keep up with our daily hygiene tasks like bathing, washing hands, and brushing teeth; many people don't know that there are also many tasks and habits related to sleep hygiene. That's right— things you do during the day and evening can have a great effect on your sleep quality!
With that in mind, we've created this guide and checklist to help you understand how sleep hygiene works and what things you can be doing each day to help you sleep better each night.
We all know that exercise is good for the body, but it's good for the mind as well. In fact, as little as 10 minutes of moderate exercise per day can have a significant effect on sleep quality. That means making time for a little walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or other aerobic activity each day can really improve your sleep. Just keep in mind that strenuous exercise too close to bedtime can make it hard for some people to fall asleep, so consider what will be best for you.
Although short naps of 20 to 30 minutes during the day can help you feel more awake and alert, daytime naps simply cannot make up for lack of good nighttime sleep. This is because, when you sleep during the night, your brain must progress through four deeper and deeper stages of sleep before reaching the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. REM sleep is when you dream the most and your brain gets the most rest and refreshing effects. Since most daytime naps don't last long enough for you to enter REM sleep, you won't really catch up on your nighttime sleep, and too much napping can actually harm your overall sleep quality.
Watch What You Drink & Eat
Most of us know that drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and sodas can help keep us up at night. The same is true for another stimulant, nicotine. As for alcohol, although it can help you fall asleep, too much can disrupt your sleep later in the night, when your body starts processing it. So, be sure to moderate your alcohol consumption as you get close to bedtime for better sleep.
When it comes to food, it's best to avoid things that are very rich or heavy, high in sugar or fat, highly acidic, or very spicy, as these can lead to indigestion that could disrupt your sleep. Other foods, that are heavy in carbohydrates, are known to make you feel drowsy. Your Thanksgiving turkey, for example, contains a substance called L-tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the brain create melatonin, a key hormone for falling and staying asleep.
Many people also try to avoid eating after a certain time of night to avoid disrupting their sleep. Think about skipping that midnight snack next time, and see if that will help you sleep better!
Go Out, & Get Some Sun
Your brain works on a cycle called a circadian rhythm. That means the rising and setting of the sun each day actually triggers your brain to release hormones that make you sleepy at night. Many people who don't get outside enough or spend their days and nights in too much darkness or light can throw off their circadian rhythms and harm their sleep quality. So, it's great to go soak up a little sunshine or keep your window shades
Limit Screen Time at Night
More and more studies are showing the negative effects our screens are having on our sleep quality. TV, computer, and smartphone screens emit certain blue shades of light that are proven to disrupt the brain's circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep. That means it can be a great idea to put down your phone, turn off the TV, and read a book an hour before bed. Many smartphone makers are also now offering a "night mode" feature that filters out much of this harmful blue light, which could be a viable option as well.
Set Up a Relaxing Sleep Environment
It might seem obvious, but be sure to make yourself the best possible sleep environment in your bedroom. Here's a checklist of things to do for the best sleep environment:
- Ensure your bed is comfortable
- Find the right type of pillows for your head and neck
- Keep your sheets and bedding washed regularly
- Make sure your bedroom is cool—
usuallyaround 65 to 67 degrees is best
- Use a humidifier to keep your airways hydrated
- Have warm, comfortable blankets
- Consider a weighted blanket for added feelings of security
- Make sure your bedroom is dark
- Use blackout curtains
- Turn off the TV
- Use an eye mask
- Get the right amount of ambient noise
- Use a white noise machine
- Use a fan to circulate air
- Play soothing music or ambient nature sound recordings
The bottom line is to find out what works best for you and do everything you can to ensure your sleeping environment is just right each night.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Routine is an important way for us to train our bodies and brains to maintain a good sleep schedule. Your bedtime routine can be unique to you, but the key is to figure out what nighttime activities help you sleep best. Here are some ideas to explore for your bedtime routine:
- Change into comfortable sleeping clothes
- Take a warm shower or bath
- Brush your teeth and wash your face
- Drink a glass of water
- Turn off the TV
- Do a little light stretching
- Set out your clothes for the next day
- Plug in your phone to charge, silence it, and put it down
- Read a book
- Avoid intense or emotional conversations
- Play relaxing music or soothing ambient nature sounds
- Turn on a
- Close your curtains and window shades
- Turn off the lights
Experiment, & See What Works Best for You
Everyone's bodies and brains are different, so everyone will have unique ideal sleep hygiene. If you're struggling with your sleep quality, take a close look at your daily routine, keeping
As you can see, there are many things you can do or avoid doing during the day, evening, and night to help improve your sleep hygiene. In many cases, it could be a few simple changes that make all the difference for you and your sleep. What's most important is to recognize the value of proper sleep hygiene and work actively to maximize yours. If what is keeping you awake is the discomfort of your CPAP machine, check out our guide to CPAP comfort, and find out how RemZzzs ® CPAP mask liners can make a big difference.