How to develop a good sleep hygiene

Not getting enough sleep or keep waking up in the middle of the night? Sleep deprivation and disruption can lead to a series of consequences and conditions.

In the short-term, this can include reduced quality of life, emotional distress, mood disorders and a poor performance at work. In the long-run, sleep disruption in healthy people can lead to heart disease and weight-related issues.1 In fact, the NHS believes that one in three of UK citizens aren’t getting enough sleep.2

This is where a good sleep hygiene comes in.

What is sleep hygiene?

While the word hygiene is commonly associated with cleanliness, it also has another meaning regarding your sleep. To have a good sleep hygiene, you need to create a number of positive practices or habits in your daily routine before hitting the hay.

How long should you be sleeping?

The NHS suggests that most of us sleeping beauties should aim to get eight hours of good-quality sleep a night.3 However, it depends on every person.

They also stated that if you wake up tired and spend the day wanting a nap, you’re not getting enough sleep.

Good sleep hygiene tips

To form good sleep hygiene, there are a number of environmental and physical elements to consider.

Just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and night spent tossing and turning.

  1. No phone before bed – one study found that using your phone before bed can be associated with poor sleep quantity in children and adolescents.4 You may also get easily distracted, leading you to go to sleep later than planned. Further research says you should avoid screen time for 37 minutes before getting into bed.5

  2. Eat your last meal three hours before bed – as a guideline, this has a number of benefits. Firstly, this will give your body time to digest certain foods which could keep you up or disrupt sleep.6

  3. Try magnesium - the mineral is believed to improve cases of insomnia in the elderly,7 so try eating more foods like spinach, kale and broccoli, or supplements containing magnesium.

  4. Bath with mineral salts – helps your muscles relax and allows your mind to switch off.

  5. Keep your bedroom cool – being too warm in the night can lead to a restless night’s sleep. The temperature of your bedroom should be under 18°C, with eve Sleep’s research discovering that 16.1°C is the optimum.8

  6. Install blackout blinds – the morning sunlight can often disturb your sleep. Try fixing some blackout blinds to keep your room dark.

  7. Limit blue light exposure – Blue light is thought to suppress melatonin (the sleep hormone) production. Try to change your settings on your electronic devices around two hours before bed to limit your exposure to blue light while you wind down for the night.

  8. Limit naps – a 20-30 minute nap is okay, however it will not make up for a poor nights sleep, but may help improve your mood and concentration.

  9. Avoid certain foods – your diet may be stopping you from sleeping. Avoid fatty foods and caffeine as these can cause disruptive sleep.

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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.

Last updated: 24 February 2020

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