The word “hygiene” is often strictly taken as synonymous with cleanliness. But, the true meaning of the word has more to do with a set of habits, practices, and environmental influences that can impact the health of a person. All forms of hygiene are important in your health and well-being, as it reduces your chances of getting infections, contracting diseases, preventing oral cavities, spreading germs or viruses, etc.
Just as these forms of hygiene serve to preserve your health, sleep hygiene aims for the same, and it can help you improve your everyday life. Here’s how:
Why You Need Quality Sleep
A full night sleep is important in your overall health and happiness. Most people are already aware that losing a few hours of sleep can make them feel cranky and tired the next day, and even experience difficulties staying alert, concentrating, and keeping a positive mood. Such effects can result from a few hours of lost sleep.
People who are regularly losing sleep put their lives at risk of a whole range of medical conditions an health issues such as:
• Heart disease
• Heart attacks
• Cognitive impairment
• Chronic stress
• Memory loss
• Mood disorders
• Vulnerability to accidents
• Heart arrhythmia
In today’s modern world where time is a scarce resource, many people are feeling that sleep comes second to societal needs, and it’s no wonder that so many people are sleep deprived.
Practicing Sleep Hygiene
Most people believe that since they are sleeping for the recommended 7 to 9 hours, they are doing it right. Nonetheless, although getting enough sleep is crucial, getting quality sleep is much more important. If you engage in activities that disrupt your sleep, then your mind and body are not resting enough to restore and prepare for the next day.
Your sleeping environment and personal habits are the main determinants of whether you are getting quality every day sleep or not. Optimizing both is paramount for a proper sleep hygiene.
• Develop a regular bedtime routine
• Avoiding eating too close to your bedtime
• Practicing relaxation techniques before bedtime also helps
• Don’t take nicotine and caffeine close to your bed time
• Get light whenever possible
• Avoid taking alcohol just before your bedtime
A regular bed time routine (going to bed and rising every day at the same time) is essentially the most important practice you should practice for better sleep. Part of it is keeping it up even during the weekends, by avoiding sleep ins and staying up late. Keep in mind that depriving yourself sleep during weekdays and binge-sleeping during weekends will do more harm than good to your sleep cycles.
• Ditch all your electronics (TVs, laptops, tablets, cellphones, e-readers, etc.) before bedtime
• Let your bedroom be associated with only sleep and sex
• Keep your bedroom dark
• Keep the bedroom cool and quiet
• Keep your alarm away from your bed after you set it
• Make your bed as comfortable as possible
These sleep hygiene practices will help you get more fulfilling sleep, and awake more alert and energetic to start your day. If you find yourself sluggish, tired, and struggling to stay alert during the day, it could be a sign of a sleep disorder. Contact your local sleep clinic for assistance.