How’s your sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is the new ‘buzz-phrase’ when it comes to talking about everything connected with the world of slumber. According to the American Sleep Foundation, sleep hygiene ‘is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good night time sleep quality and full daytime alertness.’ It claims that, ‘Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It can also improve productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone, from children to older adults, can benefit from practicing good sleep habits.’

At Serta, we believe that good sleep hygiene involves pre-bed routines that help you relax and unwind before going to sleep. A healthy routine will act as a powerful signal to your body that it is time to prepare itself for rest, thus allowing you to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep.

Here’s our guide to helping you get the best night’s sleep possible:


Keep a regular sleep timetable

Consistency is important to a healthy night’s sleep as it helps you get in sync with your body’s natural sleep cycle. Keeping a regular sleep timetable by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will ultimately help you feel energised and refreshed. So set yourself a fixed rest and awakening time that you follow every day, even on weekends. If you find that you are waking up tired in the mornings, then you should re-set your bedtime to an earlier hour. The body will get accustomed to falling asleep at a certain time, so start training it in order to form a healthy sleeping habit.


Avoid napping in the late afternoon

It is generally not a good idea to nap in the late hours of the day. While it is great to help refresh the batteries, it can prevent you from getting to sleep once it is time for bed. If you have to nap, do so in the early hours of the day and only for half an hour, any longer and you may disrupt your sleep patterns.


Television

Many of us will watch television as a way to wind down at night or fall asleep. But what many people don’t realise is that television actually stimulates the mind, rather than relaxing it. Late night television usually consists of content that either shows disturbing material or requires us to think and use our brains. The light from the television can also confuse our body clock, making it harder to fall asleep.


Exercise

While regular exercise positively impacts sleep quality, it is best done in the earlier part of the day. Exercise stimulates the body by raising its temperature, so if you exercise later in the evenings you may experience trouble getting to sleep as the body requires a cooler temperature in order to wind down and promote rest.


Alcohol

While alcohol may initially help you drift off, it actually reduces your sleep quality. A lot of people will have a small alcoholic beverage just before they are about to go to bed due to its sedating effect, however this sedation does not last long and people will often wake up later during the night. Alcohol prevents you from drifting into the deepest zone of sleep, causing fatigue and lack of energy the next day.


Caffeine

Avoid caffeine in the hours leading up to your bedtime. Studies show that caffeine is a stimulant and will keep you awake or disrupt your sleep patterns. Everybody is different, metabolising caffeine at varying rates, have a play around with your caffeine intake. Try cutting out coffee after lunch and see if you notice an improvement in your ability to sleep that night.


Big meals

Avoid big meals before bedtime as heavy rich and fatty foods take a couple hours to fully digest and therefore can be uncomfortable when trying to get to sleep. Spicy foods can also cause stomach troubles and heartburn preventing you from drifting off. If you are hungry, try a small snack that contains carbohydrates. A great choice is a handful of almonds which are a good source of minerals that help you relax.


Adopt a pre-bed ritual


Doing activities that help relax the body will make it easier for you to drift off. Things like taking a warm bath, stretching, reading a light book or listening to gentle music will help you wind down after a long day, and ultimately send cues to your body that it is almost time to sleep.

Sometimes it’s the little things that affect your sleep quality, so if you are having difficulties nodding off, try adopting some of these tips to improve your sleep hygiene. If you are consistent in making an effort to relax and wind down before going to bed, you should find that sleep comes easier, quicker and more soundly.

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