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What is sleep hygiene and why is it important?

Sleep is important for our bodies to restore and repair. It’s also vital for our mental health and allows our brains to process things as part of learning and remembering. What can we do to get a good night's sleep?

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What is ‘sleep hygiene’?

It’s a term used to describe our practices and routines surrounding sleep. It includes our sleeping environment, daily routines, and general attitude to sleep. We can improve our sleep hygiene by implementing good habits that promote consistent, restful sleep. 

On average, we need around 7-8 hours of sleep. Factoring in the time it takes us to drift off, this means we should aim to carve out 6-9 hours to get a full night’s sleep. Here’s some tips on how we can use the concept of sleep hygiene to sleep well. 

Use a sleep diary. Noting down when we feel sleepy and awake can help us identify our natural circadian rhythm or body clock. We can also identify patterns and triggers that lead to poor sleep like particular foods or room temperature. 

Wind down well. Look at what’s going on before we drift off. Is it too stimulating? Is it calming? Are the books we read relaxing or tense? Making small changes like having a bath before bed or leaving serious discussions about finances to earlier in the day can aid more restful sleep. 

Set up your sleep environment. It’s not always possible, but if we should aim to make our bedroom a sacred space where we can leave our busy lives at the door and retreat for optimum sleep. Switch off screens as phones, tablets and laptops emit blue light which is stimulating and disrupts our circadian rhythm. If space is a problem, we can try and change the space from day to night mode by changing the throw on the bed or using a lamp for nighttime only. 

It can be incredibly frustrating if we aren’t able to get a good night’s sleep. By making changes to our lifestyle and implementing good habits we can start to help ourselves.

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