The fear, insecurity, and isolation that come with the COVID-19 crisis have caused many people to have trouble sleeping. Some individuals face sleep disorders every day of their lives. Others ignore their natural need for rest to tackle everything on their overwhelming to-do lists. In fact, sleep is something that is often sacrificed for something we consider to be a greater good.
However, nothing can compensate for the lack of sleep, and the consequences of sleep deprivation can be severe. That’s why we all need to practice a little thing called sleep hygiene.
Here are some things you should know about sleep hygiene and how to practice it.
What do we mean when we say “sleep hygiene”?
Hygiene is defined as multiple practices that lead to a healthy life. Sleep hygiene is the same thing. The term is used to describe different habits that promote healthy, uninterrupted sleep. Proper sleep hygiene encourages you to lead a healthier lifestyle, stick with a consistent bedtime routine, and maintain regular sleep cycles. Originally, the term was used to describe a set of habits recommended for patients suffering from insomnia, but later on, experts accepted it as a public health practice.
In the following sections, we’ll try to give you some tips on maintaining sleep hygiene in regular circumstances.
How much sleep is enough?
The number of hours of sleep you need to get to feel rested depends on your age, and the general recommendation for adults is seven to nine hours of sleep per night. You might be unable to fulfill that every single night, but you should try.
The importance of a regular sleep routine
The number of hours is not the only thing that counts. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every morning will help regulate your sleep cycle, and it will be easier if you have a routine that helps you fit in.
Many people have the habit of napping during the day if they don’t feel like they’ve got enough sleep. A quick nap can give you that energy boost, but if you overdo it, napping will easily steal away your energy, making you tired all the time. A quality power nap shouldn’t last longer than 20 minutes if you want to make it through the day without grogginess.
Treat yourself before bedtime
The best part of actively embracing sleep hygiene is that you can make it more enjoyable and fall asleep much faster if you practice some bedtime rituals. When choosing a ritual for you, experiment with different methods, until you find the one that suits you best. Some people find deep breathing exercises to be helpful. Other things that can work include doing yoga, taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music.
Make your room serene and comfortable
The environment you’re sleeping in has an enormous impact on how fast you fall asleep and how deep your rest will be throughout the night.
To create a sleep-friendly bedroom, start with the mattress. Take your time to choose a mattress that’s comfortable for you and provides proper support for your spine, and make sure that your pillow goes with it perfectly. Blackout window treatments will help with sleep consistency, as they’ll prevent street lights and lights from passing cars from waking you up during the night. The room temperature shouldn’t be too warm nor too cold – on average, 65 degrees is the optimal temperature for restful sleep.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
Every little thing you do during the day can make your shut-eye better or worse. Leading a healthy lifestyle is a way to deal with the issues of insomnia, interrupted sleep, and other sleep problems, and reach a long-term solution.
A healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise and a balanced diet that includes a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. However, you don’t want to exercise right before bedtime because it will make you too alert to fall asleep. The best periods to work out are in the morning or the early evening.
Avoid things that can disrupt sleep
Finally, it’s essential to avoid potentially harmful practices, such as drinking caffeine or alcohol before bedtime, smoking, and eating foods that can disrupt sleep. These are usually spicy, sugary, and fatty foods, which can be heavy on the digestive system.
It is also imperative to limit blue light exposure before going to bed, because the blue light from screens can keep your mind active and make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. This means you should avoid taking your phone with you and scrolling social media in your bed. Likewise, stay clear of the TV, laptop, and other potential distractions.
We’ve given you the key tips for practicing sleep hygiene and improving your sleep quality long-term, and now, the work is on you. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get results right away. Embracing sleep hygiene might take time, and your body will certainly need time to settle into a regular sleeping routine. Remember – consistency is key. Make sleep a priority, keep up the effort, and soon enough, you will experience the benefits.