Sleep hygiene has nothing to do with keeping on top of personal hygiene by showering or brushing your teeth. It is about breaking bad habits that could be contributing towards sleepless nights or insomnia. While how well you sleep is sometimes determined by health conditions, sleep hygiene is often to blame for lack of sleep or feeling tired all the time. Express.co.uk reveals the seven rules to follow to maintain good sleep hygiene and get a great night’s sleep.
You’d assume that the phrase sleep hygiene refers to washing your sheets regularly and showering before bed, but it doesn’t.
Sleep hygiene is another way of saying good sleep habits.
The better your sleep hygiene is, the better your quality of sleep and less likely you are to feel drowsy and sleep-deprived.
Here are the seven rules of sleep hygiene to follow to ensure you are well-rested enough.
Get regular exercise each day, preferably in the morning, to maintain good sleep hygiene.
There is good evidence regular exercise improves restful sleep, but you should never exercise just before going to bed.
Your sleep will be deeper and more refreshing if you’ve been active or done a big workout earlier in the day.
If you can, go outside when you wake up and make sure you’re getting enough fresh air and natural lights.
The NHS site recommends getting regular exposure to outdoor or bright lights, especially in the early afternoon.
You should expose yourself to natural light as soon as you wake up so you feel more alert.
It can be as simple as stepping into the garden for a cup of tea, but you should at least open the blinds and windows if you can’t leave the house.
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Keeping your room clean and tidy is an obvious way to keep your mind calm and rested, but you should try to control the lighting, temperature and noise too.
The NHS advice says it is important to keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable and keep the bedroom dark enough to facilitate sleep.
Don’t forget to keep the bedroom quiet by investing in thick curtains, sleeping at the back of your house or even getting some earplugs to avoid being woken by the noise.
Sometimes sleeping is difficult and you won’t be able to just shut your eyes and drift off.
Give yourself at least an hour to wind down before going to sleep.
Use this time to process the day’s events, write a to-do list for the next day or do something relaxing.
You could also try muscle relaxation to help distress and unwind, such as a warm bath, massage or progressive muscular relaxation (PMR).
Don’t engage in stimulating activity just before bed, such as playing computer games, watching an exciting movie or program on television, or having an important discussion with a loved one.
You should also try not to read, watch television or text friends while in bed.
Watch your diet
What you eat is another key part of sleep hygiene.
Don’t have caffeine in the evening (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.) and try not to in the eight hours before bedtime.
You should also avoid having alcohol in the evening or using alcohol to sleep because, although it may make you drowsy, it doesn’t improve sleep and you may wake to go to the toilet.
Don’t smoke before going to bed either because nicotine is a stimulant and will keep you awake.
Don’t go to bed too hungry or too full, try to give yourself a couple of hours space between eating and sleeping.
Don’t force it
You should never try to force yourself to sleep when you don’t feel tired.
If you lie in bed awake for more than 20 to 30 minutes, get up, go to a different room (or a different part of the bedroom), participate in a quiet activity (eg non-excitable reading or television), then return to bed when you feel sleepy.
Do this as many times during the night as needed, but don’t try and make yourself go to sleep if you’re not feeling sleepy as this will make your mind and body more alert.
Never take daytime naps or doze off in front of the TV in the evening – keep yourself awake with something stimulating or you risk resetting your body clock.