Did you know there is a term for your bedtime rituals and nightly habits? These behaviors are known as sleep hygiene. If you want to get a better night’s sleep, the answer to this often begins with improving some of your habits.

What is sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is the rituals, behaviors, and norms you follow around sleep. Following a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine late at night are good sleep hygiene practices. Regularly pulling all-nighters, or sleeping in on the weekends so you can “make up” for lost sleep are both examples of poor sleep hygiene.

In a nutshell, good sleep hygiene ensures you consistently enjoy higher-quality, more restful sleep for a sufficient amount of time each night. Bad sleep habits, on the other hand, lead to poor quality and inadequate sleep. Therefore, if you’re waking up unrested each morning or frequently during the night, feel tired during the day, or have trouble falling asleep at night, there’s a very good chance that you have bad sleep hygiene.

Most people sleep during the hours that make the most sense for their professional, family, and social lives. Their awakening times are largely determined by these responsibilities and commitments, whereas when they go to sleep often depend on their personal preferences and evening activities.

Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per day—that’s a given. Figuring out how to get that amount is another story. If you need to wake up at 6:00 am, you can count backward eight hours and set bedtime of 10:00 pm (and don’t forget the time for your morning rituals). This is a good starting point, but there are individual variations when it comes to the best hours for sleep. For example, some people are larks (morning types), while others are owls (night lovers), and still, others are in between these patterns. What you are depending on your individual circadian rhythm, your 24-hour internal clock that regulates sleepiness, alertness, and various bodily functions.

Tips to improve your sleep

  1. Go to bed the same time every night (avoid bedtime procrastination),
  2. Sleep in a quiet place (some people need white noise and this is totally fine),
  3. Keep your bedroom dark and cool,
  4. Limit screen time before going to bed (do yourself a favor: leave the phone in a different room and invest in an old-fashion alarm clock),
  5. Limit your daytime naps,
  6. Exercise daily,
  7. Keep a diary of what (and when) you eat and drink, and find the correlation with your sleep patterns

In other words, there’s no magical one-size-fits-all schedule that suits everyone. The best approach is to match your sleep times to your physiological rhythms and try to get the seven to nine hours of sleep that you need regularly.

Once you discover the optimal hours of sleep that work for you, keep them consistent during the weekdays and weekends. This will help keep your body’s internal clock on schedule. Doing so will make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep night after night. You will get a good quality shut-eye that will help you feel and function at your best.

Curious? Would you like to know more? Let me help you to work on your health the right way and make a commitment to being the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.

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