Get a more restful sleep 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 8 hours you “slept” could have only resulted in four hours of quality sleep, which means that you are only benefiting from the latter of these two. This sleep deprivation could leave you wide open for 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.

What are signs of poor sleep hygiene?

Common symptoms of poor sleep hygiene include frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness. You can also tell if you have poor sleep hygiene if: it takes you over 30 minutes to fall asleep (after getting into bed); you regularly wake up more than once a night; stay awake for more than 20 minutes after waking up in the middle of the night; and/or you spend less than 85% of your time in bed asleep.

7 ways to improve sleep hygiene

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!

1. Enforce a Blue Light Curfew: Blue light comes from many of the devices around your home, and since it’s a powerful melatonin suppressant, this can wreak havoc on your sleep. Instead, try to power down your electronics after a certain time, or add a blue light filter to help negate these effects. By reducing your exposure to blue light, your body will naturally start producing melatonin and should allow you to sleep better at night.

2. Cut the Stimulants: It’s hard to beat a good cup of coffee, but having caffeine later in the day can negatively impact your sleep hygiene. If you feel groggy in the afternoon, try going on a walk, taking a 15 minute power nap, or stretching your body. You can also improve your sleep hygiene by not smoking or drinking alcohol at least three hours before bed, as these stimulants can interfere with your sleep cycle.

3. Load Up on Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for bone health, your immune system, and depression, but recent research indicates that it may influence both sleep quality and sleep quantity. People who experienced less than 5 hours of sleep a night had low levels of vitamin D, while people with more than 7 hours of sleep a night had higher levels of vitamin D. You can either get this vitamin through supplements or by getting 5-10 minutes of daily sun exposure, but just a little bit of extra vitamin D can help with your sleep quality!

4. Do something for pleasure: Wind down each night by doing something you enjoy. Whether that’s reading, cooking, or playing with your dog, do something that’s relaxing and brings you joy. This will help calm you down and relax your body so it can prepare for sleep later.

5. Improve Your Sleep Environment: Your bedroom should be a relaxing place that you should be excited to fall asleep in! To maximize the quality of your sleep, try to make the room as dark, quiet, and cool as possible to help promote sound slumber. This can be achieved through heavy curtains, eye masks, white noise appliances, and a fan or AC unit. You can also invest in good pillows and a mattress that will make sleeping more comfortable.

6. Take time for nature: If possible, try to spend a few minutes a day outdoors. Whether this is walking, taking the dog out, or doing yoga in the backyard, fresh air does wonders for both your mental and physical health. Spending some time outside each day has also been shown to promote sleep by relaxing the mind and reducing stress.

7. Develop a bedtime routine: Night routines are a great way to tell your body it’s time to unwind. Establishing habits each night will greatly improve your quality of sleep, and will make you feel more refreshed the next day. For example; if you enjoy reading, try reading for 30 minutes every night before going to bed. Pretty soon, your body will associate reading at night with calming down and preparing for sleep.

What do you to do improve the quality of your sleep? We would love to know!

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