Get a more restful sleep each night and improve sleep hygiene with these helpful tips.

Picture this: you wake up in the morning feeling groggy, so you hit the snooze button a few times to delay the inevitable. After getting out of bed, you grab that cup of coffee and open your cell phone to check social media, which then leads to you heading to your laptop to begin your day. Between emails, deadlines, kids, laundry, and cooking, you don’t realize that it’s midday until the “crash” takes over. You find yourself reaching for a third cup of coffee while wondering how you can still be tired after being in bed for 7 hours. Does this scenario sound familiar? Then you aren’t alone!

According to the CDC, 35% of adults don’t get the recommended 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night, which means that many people are sleep-deprived. It can be easy to think that just because you “slept” in bed for 8 hours means that you got a good night sleep, but this isn’t necessarily true! Keep in mind that the quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity of sleep each night. Those 7 hours you “slept” could have only resulted in 4 hours of quality sleep, which means that you are only benefiting from those four hours of quality sleep time. This sleep deprivation could leave you wide open to fatigue, stress, and emotional eating throughout the day. While you can certainly power through with coffee, tea, and other stimulants, it’s best to get a full night’s rest for both your physical and mental health.

Having good sleep hygiene can also improve your happiness, productivity, and quality of life. Regardless of age, we can all benefit from practicing good sleep habits and establishing a healthy sleep schedule. So, how can you improve sleep hygiene and feel more rested each day? Read on to learn more!

What is sleep hygiene?

The Sleep Foundation defines sleep hygiene as “a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.” These sleep habits are things that you would do every night before bed, and every morning when you wake up. It’s important to establish a healthy set of sleep habits to best improve your chances of getting a full night’s rest. Keep reading to learn more about 7 ways you can improve sleep hygiene!

What are signs of poor sleep hygiene?

Common symptoms of poor sleep hygiene include frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness. Feeling exhausted all the time isn’t fun, but with just a few simple lifestyle changes, you can improve your sleep hygiene, get a good night’s rest, and feel more refreshed the next day!

7 way to improve sleep hygiene

1. Enforce a Blue Light Curfew: Did you know that so much of your life revolves around blue light? From cell phones to computers to tablets, blue light frequencies are everywhere and can make an impact on your circadian rhythm by inhibiting melatonin production. This hormone is known as the “sleep hormone” and is important for your body to adhere to a sleep and wake cycle (or circadian rhythm). To reduce your exposure to blue light, try to enforce a blue light curfew after dinnertime. Power down your devices or add a blue light filter in the evening to help your body produce melatonin at the appropriate time so sleep can overcome you like it should.

2. Cut the Stimulants: Do you love the afternoon pick-me-up of coffee or tea? While this may be a nice break to your afternoon, keep in mind that it’s actually considered bad sleep hygiene. Try to steer clear of caffeinated beverages after 2 PM for optimal sleep!

3. Load Up on Vitamin D: Recent research shows that if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, then you may be more likely to experience poor sleep quality. You can get this vitamin through supplements or spending 5-10 minutes outdoors a few times a week without sunscreen or sunglasses.

4. Improve Your Sleep Environment: To make your room a relaxing, quiet place, try using “white noise” appliances before you fall asleep, as well as heavy curtains and an eye mask to block light sources. You can also try keeping your room at a cool temperature (between 60 and 75°F) and make sure that you have a comfortable mattress and pillows.

5. Develop a bedtime routine: Create a nightly routine that will help your body recognize it’s time to unwind. For example, reading a book, taking a bath, or stretching can all be relaxing activities that will get you ready for sleep. Do these habits at the same time every night and you’re sure to see a positive difference in your sleep hygiene!

6. Do something for pleasure: Give yourself permission to enjoy something that you love! Whether that’s walking, hiking, coloring, reading, drawing, meditating, or cooking, doing things that give you pleasure will also help lower your stress levels and let your mind relax (all of which are great for sleep hygiene).

7. Take time for nature: Spend some time each day going outside and looking at the trees, taking a walk in a park, or doing yoga in the backyard. Nature is very relaxing on the mind, and this has been shown to increase sleep by not only relaxing the mind but increasing the neurotransmitters responsible for repairing the body. Some research proves that daily outdoor time can decrease headaches, stress and pain.

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