Picture this: you exit the house hurriedly for your night shift. And in the middle of the shift, you start to feel sleepy, so you make yourself several cups of coffee. But despite your efforts, you end up dozing off at work. Then, the next day starts, and the cycle repeats. Sounds eerily familiar?
I’ve been there before. Unfortunately, breaking the cycle of poor sleep is hard when the environment around you worsens it. That’s why in this article, I’ve made a sleep hygiene checklist to improve your overall sleep quality.
Good sleep hygiene means developing certain habits, attitudes, behaviors, and environmental factors to improve sleep quality. This matters a lot because if you neglect your sleep quality, you increase the risk of physical and mental health issues like fatigue, depression, weight gain, etc.
In most cases, making minimal adjustments to your life is enough to get better sleep. Below, you’ll find a couple of these suggestions.
In an age where technology plays a huge part in our life, it’s hard not to constantly check our smartphones at night. But did you know that doing this messes up your circadian rhythm, which is responsible for regulating sleep?
Using your smartphone or laptop at night, especially two hours before sleep, keeps your brain engaged and active. This makes it hard for your brain to “shut off” and let you sleep in peace.
To tackle this, try to turn off your smartphone two hours before sleep. If you’re used to scrolling your favorite social media platform before bed, replace this with reading a book or writing in a journal.
And if you have to check your phone, reduce the brightness and install an anti-blue light app, which blocks blue light emissions that keep you awake.
When you have a designated time for sleeping and waking up, you develop a stable circadian rhythm. Thus, you’ll improve the quality of your sleep and overall health.
And if you mess up your sleep routine, try to go back to it one step at a time. For example, if you slept at midnight instead of 9 pm, try to sleep at 11 pm the next day. Then, try to sleep at 10 pm the day after it, and so on.
Eating junk and sugary foods like fried chicken, french fries, or cookies can be comforting, especially after a stressful day. But it sure won’t help you have a good night of sleep.
This is because sugar causes a spike in blood sugar levels, which in turn worsens sleep quality. Also, try to avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Even though alcohol might make you sleepy at first, it’ll disrupt your circadian rhythm and worsen sleep quality.
As for caffeinated beverages, they stimulate your mind and keep it awake, which makes it harder for you to sleep.
Keep in mind that soft drinks, hot chocolate, and tea have caffeine, just like coffee. Plus, some OTC medications like anti-flu drugs contain caffeine too.
If cutting out nighttime snacking is difficult (I’m guilty, too), you can try to snack on fruits or veggies and make yourself a cup of relaxing chamomile tea.
Naps are great for energizing your body throughout the day. But when you nap for too long, you might mess up your circadian rhythm and end up struggling to sleep at night.
The solution is to keep naps before 3 pm and never let them exceed 30 minutes. If you feel like you need to nap for longer, try to stay awake until bedtime. You’ll thank yourself when you wake up the next day feeling energized and ready to rule the world.
Changing your surroundings can improve your sleep hygiene a lot. For example, if your room is messy, try to clean it up. If you believe in “alternative” methods, you can also try placing crystals around your bed to change the energy in your room.
You can also wear earplugs if there’s noise and invest in a high-quality mattress that improves your posture. Another idea is to light up some candles that have a relaxing aroma or play ambient sounds for sleep.
If you feel like your room’s lights are a bit harsh, you can use a lamp with red light because it puts less strain on your eyes. I also suggest you “reprogram” your brain that lying on the bed is solely for sleep, sex, and nothing else.
This might become your favorite if you give it a try, especially during stressful days. Try a couple of relaxing activities until you find something that helps you have better sleep hygiene.
For example, writing in a gratitude journal will increase your contentment in life, and doing yoga will relax your strained muscles. You can also try doing breathwork or taking a shower.
Another idea is to do boring activities like studying or doing taxes (yawn). Best believe you’ll find yourself falling asleep in an instant (wink).
Exercising has many benefits for your health. One of them is improving the quality of your sleep. When you do exercises in the morning, you tire yourself out. This makes it easier for you to fall asleep.
Plus, you’re less likely to gain unnecessary weight, which reduces the risk for sleep disorders like sleep apnea. But you shouldn’t do vigorous exercise at least four hours before bedtime because it might keep you awake.
This might sound surprising, but exposing yourself to sunlight can improve the overall quality of your sleep. That’s because it helps you regulate your circadian rhythm and increase melatonin production at night. So, grab your favorite drink and go on a nice morning walk.
If all else fails and nothing seems to help you sleep, there could be an underlying issue you’re unaware of. In this case, you should consult your doctor.
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The amount of sleeping hours you need to maintain good sleep hygiene mainly depends on your age. The following table demonstrates the recommended average sleeping hours according to CDC.
|Average Hours of Sleep/Day
If you notice any of these signs, you might have poor sleep hygiene:
If you find yourself feeling exhausted, hungry most of the time, or awake in the middle of the night, these could be signs of poor sleep hygiene.
You can improve your sleep quality by modifying your lifestyle a bit. For example, you can replace caffeine and junk food with healthy snacks and relaxing drinks, avoid using any electronic devices two hours before bed, or try relaxing activities like yoga and deep breathing before sleeping.
And note that you don’t have to make all these modifications at once. Building a habit takes time, so gradually add new ones until you feel your overall sleep quality has improved.
The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Easysleepguide.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment options.