2 Feb 2017

Are you practicing good sleep hygiene?

By Dr. Carmel Harrington
Researcher & Author, “The Sleep Diet” and “The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep”

What is sleep hygiene?

Simply put, sleep hygiene refers to adopting the best practices prior to going to bed to ensure quality sleep at night and alertness during the day. By following these tips for sleeping, you may be able to increase the quality of your sleep while boosting your waking energy.

The best practices for good sleep hygiene:

The first step of sleep hygiene is establishing how much sleep per night you’ll need. While the general rule of thumb is between seven and nine hours, each body is unique in its need for sleep. Once you’ve found the number of hours that works for you, be sure to avoid napping during the day. While it may be tempting to catch some afternoon zzz’s, it may inhibit your ability to rest late at night.

Food and sleep hygiene

The choices that you make when it comes to food and drink are absolutely vital to retaining a quality sleep schedule.

Three hours before bedtime do not eat a large meal, as the digestive process will keep you from getting to, or staying asleep. You may feel that you need that afternoon coffee as a pick-me-up, but as we age our metabolic rate slows down so that the coffee you had at 3 p.m. may still be keeping you awake at 10 p.m. caffeine levels will remain high enough in your body around bedtime to inhibit the onset of sleep. And while that late-night cocktail may calm your nerves and ease you into bed, alcohol actually is a sleep-stealer and will affect your ability to stay asleep. 

Lights, Tech and Stress

In the hours leading up to your bedtime, try to avoid stressful situations. Arrange to pay your bills or make any phone calls with plenty of time to cool off before heading to bed. Make sure to turn off all technology at least one hour before bedtime and reduce ambient light. This will promote the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness. Make sure that your bedroom is cool, dark and comfortable. This also means absolutely no television in the bedroom, as that area should be reserved strictly for sleep and sex.

Quality sleep is so important to your health and it begins with proper sleep hygiene. By following these simple tips for sleeping, you’ll have the chance at quality sleep, more often.

Quality sleep isn’t just about allowing 8 hours between going to bed and waking up; it’s also about the relationship between exercise, nutrition and sleep. If you’re not sleeping well, it could be that you need to assess these three pillars of health. Download the ebook Unlocking the three pillars of health for a comprehensive introduction to how sleep is affected by diet and exercise.

Take the next step to improving your sleep: 

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