What Is Sleep Hygiene?
According to Wikipedia, Sleep Hygiene is "the recommended behavioral and environmental practice that is intended to promote better quality sleep". In simple terms, it is all the conditions in your environment that make it easier for you to sleep well. Sleep Hygiene is a non-medical treatment for insomnia, and is extremely conductive to your overall health.
Why Is It So Important?
Sleep Hygiene is incredibly important because it allows you to have a good night's sleep. This leads to a range of benefits for your health:
Increases Melatonin Production
A good night's sleep leads to increased melatonin production in your body. Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland that controls your wake-sleep cycle. With good sleep hygiene, your body will naturally be able to produce more melatonin.
Improves Your Immune Function
Sleep Hygiene leads to minimal loss of sleep during the night. This has been shown to impair immune function. In fact, it has been found that people who slept less than seven hours were thrice more likely to develop a cold than those who sleep 8+ hours a day.
Affects Emotions and Social Interactions
Another important benefit of minimal sleep loss is the fact that it bolsters your ability to interact and socialize. In fact, people who suffer from a loss of sleep have been found to have a diminished ability to recognize expressions of anger and happiness.
Improves Your Dietary Habits
Sleep-deprived individuals often have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Lack of sleep leads to fluctuations in appetite hormones and hence causes poor appetite regulation. A good sleep hygiene helps you overcome all these issues.
Reduces Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease
The quality and duration of your sleep has a significant impact on many health risk factors like stroke and heart disease. Studies have found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at a much higher risk of stroke or heart disease than those who sleep 7+ hours per night.
How Can You Practice Sleep Hygiene?
There are a bunch of factors that account for good sleep hygiene:
● Make sure to take in adequate exposure to natural light. This is especially important for people who do not venture outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day will help maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
● Smartphones are perhaps the biggest disruption to sleep hygiene today. Make sure to keep your smartphone way out of reach at least 15-20 minutes before you even get to the bed.
● Stay away from food that can be disruptive right before sleep. Food that is excessively oily, fatty or spicy is best avoided. Carbonated drinks and citrus fruits can also trigger indigestion for many people. When this happens during your bedtime, you will face painful heartburn that disrupts your sleeping pattern.
● Exercise during the day in order to enjoy good quality sleep. Even as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as cycling or walking, can significantly improve nighttime sleep quality. 15 minutes on the treadmill will have a similar effect. However, do make sure to avoid strenuous workouts right before you sleep.
● This is an obvious one, but make sure to avoid stimulants like nicotine and caffeine before your sleep. With alcohol, practise moderation. Although alcohol is known to lead to good quality sleep, an excess can end up being disruptive.
● Limit your daytime naps to less than 25-30 minutes. If you nap for too long during the day, you will have inadequate nighttime sleep. But do remember that a short nap of 20-30 minutes is still extremely helpful in bettering your day making you active.
if you want to get a good night’s sleep everyday, the solution begins with improving your sleep hygiene. Follow these tips and you'll notice a difference in your sleeping pattern immediately. Happy Bedtime!