Sleep Hygiene- how do you measure up?

Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality night time sleep and full daytime alertness. The most important sleep hygiene measure is to maintain a regular wake and sleep pattern seven days a week. It is also important to spend an appropriate amount of time in bed, not too little, or too excessive. This may vary by individual. For example, if someone has a problem with daytime sleepiness, they should spend a minimum of eight hours in bed, if they have difficulty sleeping at night, they should limit themselves to 7 hours in bed in order to keep the sleep pattern consolidated.
 

Here’s your 9 point sleep hygiene checklist to consider to help enhance your sleep quality. 

Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality night time sleep and full daytime alertness. The most important sleep hygiene measure is to maintain a regular wake and sleep pattern seven days a week. It is also important to spend an appropriate amount of time in bed, not too little, or too excessive. This may vary by individual. For example, if someone has a problem with daytime sleepiness, they should spend a minimum of eight hours in bed, if they have difficulty sleeping at night, they should limit themselves to 7 hours in bed in order to keep the sleep pattern consolidated.

 
Here’s your 9 point sleep hygiene checklist to consider to help enhance your sleep quality.
 
1.       Make sure your bedroom is a quiet environment- no outside noise, music or distracting sounds.
2.       Maintain a cool room temperature of around 18-20 degrees.
3.       Ensure that bedding or clothing doesn’t cause you to get too warm. This may wake you up and disturb your sleep.
4.       Have a consistent routine for sleep- getting to bed at the same time each night is a good way to start and helps prepare your body for sleep. As is getting up at the same time each morning.
5.        Avoid caffeine and fluid and food ingestion leading up to sleep.
6.       Avoid the use of a computer, tablet, phone or TV before going to sleep.
7.       If you need an afternoon sleep then have one no later than mid afternoon.
8.       Try to get a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night.
9.       Ensure a dark room with no light source. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland in our brain. Its main function is to induce sleep and its levels fluctuate over a 24 hour cycle with its production decreasing in the presence of light. Screens, phones and external light sources entering the room can decrease your body’s melatonin levels affecting your ability to sleep.
 
Additionally these points below are worth considering if you are having difficulty sleeping:
 
·         Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise like yoga can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
·         Food can be disruptive right before sleep.  Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And remember chocolate has caffeine!
·         Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
·         Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on or bring your problems to bed.
·         Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
 
Why is it important to practice good sleep hygiene? Sleep hygiene is important for everyone, from childhood through adulthood. A good sleep hygiene routine promotes healthy sleep and daytime alertness. Good sleep hygiene practices can prevent the development of sleep problems and disorders.
 
How does someone know if his or her sleep hygiene is poor? Sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. If one is experiencing a sleep problem, he or she should evaluate their sleep routine. It may take some time for the changes to have a positive effect.
 
How do I know the best sleep hygiene routine for me? If you’re taking too long to fall asleep, or awakening during the night, you should consider revising your bedtime habits. Most important for everyone is to maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule throughout the week and consider how much time you spend in bed, which could be too much or too little?