One cannot take the importance of sleep lightly. It is an essential part of an individual’s physical or emotional well-being. To achieve good sleep, practicing sleep hygiene is very important. Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe different practices and habits essential to have good nighttime sleep quality or full daytime alertness. Having good sleep hygiene can take most preparation, but it is worth it. Short sleep duration and quality may negatively affect an individual’s mood, mental health, and performance throughout the day.
While you sleep, your mind or body are busy replenishing cells, rebuilding tissue, and restoring energy. Without sleep, you will not have sufficient energy to accomplish essential bodily functions, much less get your 40-hour workweek in. Getting enough sleep may provide various benefits for your physical or mental health as well. The right amount of sleep is known to low your risk of Alzheimer’s, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. It keeps your energy level up, improves your mood, and fights off anxiety or depression. Inside, you have a biological clock that helps regulate all the procedures in your body that occur over 24 hours. The processes called your circadian rhythm to tell your body when it is time to go to sleep and wake up every day. When your rhythm is out of sync, you may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, leading to insomnia and other sleep problems. An excellent way to control your circadian rhythms is by practicing excellent sleep hygiene.
There are different reasons why sleep hygiene is essential in everyone’s life:
- Reduced stress: Busy lifestyles are linked to an increase in stress; a full night’s sleep of 7 to 9hrs is proven to reduce hormones like cortisol, a stress hormone. (Moss, 2020).
- Feeling energized and alert: Sleep is proven to increase energy levels and performance because of alertness. It positively affects your work as well as athletic performance. (Moss, 2020).
- Reduced inflammation: Reduced sleep is linked to an increase in inflammation; inflammation can increase the risk of heart disease. Getting a good night’s sleep is one way to decrease this. (Faraut, Boudjeltia, Vanhamme, Kerkhofs, 2011).
- Better coping ability: The link between pain and sleep is the topic of various studies in the last decade. For those suffering from long-term pain, increased quantity and good-quality sleep are linked to a reduction in the level of perceived pain and an improved capability to cope with pain levels. (Finan, Goodin, Smith, 2013).
- Recovery of cells: While sleeping, the body and cells are given a chance to recover; quality and quantity of sleep affect cells’ recovery. Studies have linked extended periods of poor sleep to cell damage or reduced recovery. (Everson, Henchen, Szabo, Hogg, 2014).
- Improved memory: In our everyday lives, we are presented with new information in our professional or personal lives; sleep provides time to process this information. Studies have shown that increased sleep positively impacts memory. (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. HHS Office on Women’s Health, 2018).
- Impact on weight gain: Studies have linked overweight as well as obesity with reduced sleep. The specific reasons for this are complicated or multifaceted, but it is theorized that poor night sleep negatively affects willpower, affecting food and exercise choices. (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. HHS Office on Women’s Health, 2018).
It is essential to ensure you are getting enough sleep, but that does not mean everybody needs to be getting 8 hours. There is not a magic number, and a person’s sleep needs are different. The National Sleep Foundation reviewed its sleep recommendations based on people’s ever-growing body. The NSF suggests that adults require between 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Most people are short sleepers, and most are long sleepers. There are many easy things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene. Changing your habits may be a challenge, but like some things in life, consistency is critical.
Here are some small changes that can make a massive difference to your sleep (O’Brien, 2017):
- Establish Consistent Sleep and Wake Schedules: On weekends, making sure to go to bed or wake up at specific times is very important to develop a good sleep routine. Try to avoid napping during the day, as this can affect your body; however, if a nap is essential, it is crucial to keep it about 20 to 30 minutes not to disrupt nighttime sleep.
- Sleep Rituals: Make a regular bedtime routine! Listening to relaxing music, soaking in a hot bath, completing light stretches, and breathing exercises are all plans that may help and will make a routine to prepare you for sleep.
- Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine, And Alcohol: It is better to avoid these substances for 4 to 6 hours before bed. It is because they may act as stimulants and interfere with both your body’s capability to fall asleep or the quality of the sleep you have.
- Minimize Screen Time Before Bed: We live in a society where we are continuously using different electronic devices. It is suggested you stop using these devices a minimum of 30 minutes before bed, as the light from screens may stop your brain from producing the sleep chemical melatonin, which is essential in helping you get to sleep.
- Keep Your Bed for Sleep: If you perform other activities such as watching TV, etc. in the bed, it can cause your mind to relate your bed with increased alertness levels. It can negatively impact your capability to fall asleep.
- Regular Exercise: There is extensive research on the advantage of sleep with exercise. Exercise during the day may be a better way to make you tired and assist in falling asleep at night. However, you can need to avoid vigorous exercise instantly before bedtime, as this can increase the body’s alertness levels. There is no research to say what kind of exercise is right to assist with sleep quality. Try doing the exercise that you enjoy; this will positively impact your mood and decrease stress levels, which will help you fall asleep.
To conclude, having adequate sleep hygiene is essential in everyday life and will improve an individual’s overall health. Sleep is as essential as diet and exercise for your good health, and it is one of the significant predictors of health. Plus, some people find that the best sleep habits are simple health changes to make. If your current sleep routine is not cutting it, it is time to put acceptable sleep hygiene practices into place.
- Moss, R. (2020). Huffpost: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep. From tech to temperature, caffeine to naps, experts share their advice for a more restful night.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. HHS Office on Women’s Health. (2018). 2018 Research Conference on Sleep and the Health of Women.
- Finan, P.H., Goodin, B.R., Smith, M.T. (2013). The association of sleep and pain: An update and a path forward. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2013.08.007.
- O’Brien, S.M. (2017). Clinical Advisor: The Importance of Sleep Hygiene.
- Irish, L.A., Kline, C.E., Gunn, H.E., Buysse, D.J., Hall, M.H. (2016). NCBI: The Role of Sleep Hygiene in Promoting Public Health: A Review of Empirical Evidence. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001.
- Faraut, B., Boudjeltia, K.Z., Vanhamme, L., Kerkhofs, M. (2011). Immune, inflammatory and cardiovascular consequences of sleep restriction and recovery. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.05.001.
- Everson, C.A., Henchen, C.J., Szabo, A., Hogg, N. (2014). Cell injury and repair resulting from sleep loss and sleep recovery in laboratory rats. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4244.