Hygiene in general refers to behaviors that can improve cleanliness and lead to good health, such as frequent hand washing, face washing, and bathing with soap and water.
In many areas of the world, practicing personal hygiene etiquette is difficult due to lack of clean water and soap. Many diseases can be spread if the hands, face, or body are not washed appropriately at key times.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.
Why is it important to practice good sleep hygiene?
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.
How can I improve my sleep hygiene?
One of the most important sleep hygiene practices is to spend an appropriate amount of time asleep in bed, not too little or too excessive. Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health.
However, there are recommendations that can provide guidance on how much sleep you need generally. Other good sleep hygiene practices include:
- Limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes. Napping does not make up for inadequate nighttime sleep. However, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. And when it comes to alcohol, moderation is key4. While alcohol is well-known to help you fall asleep faster, too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.
- Exercising to promote good quality sleep. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve nighttime sleep quality. For the best night’s sleep, most people should avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime. However, the effect of intense nighttime exercise on sleep differs from person to person, so find out what works best for you.
- Steering clear of food that can be disruptive right before sleep. Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can trigger indigestion for some people. When this occurs close to bedtime, it can lead to painful heartburn that disrupts sleep.
- Ensuring adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for individuals who may not venture outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
- Establishing a regular relaxing bedtime routine. A regular nightly routine helps the body recognize that it is bedtime. This could include taking warm shower or bath, reading a book, or light stretches. When possible, try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before attempting to sleep.
- Making sure that the sleep environment is pleasant. Mattress and pillows should be comfortable. The bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees – for optimal sleep. Bright light from lamps, cell phone and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep4, so turn those light off or adjust them when possible. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices that can make the bedroom more relaxing.
Read Also: The Meaning of Personal Hygiene
What are signs of poor sleep hygiene?
Frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In addition, if you’re taking too long to fall asleep, you should consider evaluating your sleep routine and revising your bedtime habits. Just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and night spent tossing and turning.
Tips for Better Sleep
Some habits that can improve your sleep health:
- Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
- Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
- Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
How to Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Now that you know what sleep hygiene is and why it’s important to your overall health, you might be wondering how you can create and practice good sleep hygiene behaviors.
There are several easy to implement steps you can take each day that will have a direct effect on the quality of your sleep. Let’s look at a typical day and see how you can start incorporating changes to help you institute a better sleep regimen.
Starting in the morning, you’ll want to wake up and get that cup of joe out of the way. Consuming caffeine, alcohol or nicotine close to bedtime can stimulate your body to stay awake.
By having your cappuccino in the AM, you’ll avoid disrupting your nightly sleep cycle. You’ll also want to get your exercise in no later than mid-afternoon. If you exercise too late in the day, your body won’t be fully ready to enter sleep by bedtime.
Once the afternoon rolls around, do you like to get in a daily nap? This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your sleep situation. You have a certain amount of time that you need to sleep to feel your best each day.
For some, this means they take a little nap in the afternoon but are still able to sleep through the night and spend their day awake and refreshed. But if you are taking naps and find it impossible to fall asleep at night or stay asleep, you’ll want to cut out your daily nap. If you do want to nap, The Sleep Foundation recommends limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes.
Evening time often means thinking about that big work day tomorrow, but it’s important to take proactive steps to avoid thinking about these kinds of stressors. Thinking about work, money or stressful situations before bed can release cortisol and cause you to be alert instead of sleepy.
In place of common stressors, try reading a book, doing a quiet activity (like a crossword or table puzzle), or writing in a journal to relax and wind down before bed.
Try to avoid reaching for that late-night snack; it could give you just enough energy to keep you from falling asleep. Avoiding nighttime snacks will negate common nighttime disturbances like heartburn or indigestion that might keep you awake.
You’ll also want to fight the urge to check your phone or turn on the TV right before you head to bed. The lights and information can be stimulating and keep you awake longer than your body would like.
If you’re not feeling sleepy, try taking a warm bath. The rise and fall of your blood pressure will get your body in the mood to snooze.
Once you’ve finally made it to bed, make sure your bed is comfortable, and the room temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep and romantic time with your partner only.
You shouldn’t come into your room for entertainment or to do work. It’s also critical to make your bedroom as dark as possible. This includes drawing the blinds to reduce outside lights, turning off any LED lights, and even facing your alarm clock away from view.
Finally, make sure you go to sleep at the same time each night, give or take 20 minutes, and wake up at the same time each morning. This allows your body to get on a sleep schedule by predicting how much sleep it can expect.
If your cat or dog loves to snuggle up with you in bed, but they toss, turn, and hog your covers all night, it might be worth getting them their own sleeping accommodations. When pets wake us during the night, they can throw our sleep cycle off balance, resulting in poor quality rest.
Keeping Up with your Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene, like most things in life, requires daily maintenance and care. Make sure to create a routine and stick with it every day. Improving your sleep is the most important thing you can do for your overall health, so you want to give it the proper amount of attention each day.
Stick to these sleep hygiene tips, and before long you’ll start feeling the benefits of great rest on a regular basis.
Poor Hygiene: Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Treatment
Poor hygiene can be a sign of self-neglect, which is the inability or unwillingness to attend to one’s personal needs. Poor hygiene often accompanies certain mental or emotional disorders, including severe depression and psychotic disorders.
Dementia is another common cause of poor hygiene. Other people may develop poor hygiene habits due to social factors such as poverty or inadequacy of social support.
Physical disabilities can also interfere with one’s ability to care for oneself and may result in an individual being unable to attend to personal hygiene. There is no treatment for poor hygiene, although antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are used when certain mental illnesses are the cause of this behavior.
Other causes of poor hygiene
- Brain Trauma
- Delusional Disorder
- Drug-Induced Psychosis
- Lack of Social Support
- Physical Disability
- Vascular Dementia
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