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Sleep Hygiene: Importance and How to Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene

Most of us, when we hear this word, hygiene, we think about our daily routine of bathing, changing into fresh clean clothes, cleaning our rooms etc. to be hygienic. Over thousands of years, humanity has evolved to a point where hygiene is a must, rather than just an add-on. 

It prevents diseases, improves quality of life and makes us more presentable to the society. But what if I told you, most of us fail to recognize and maintain a very distinct yet important type of hygiene. In this post, we will be talking about sleep hygiene.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

The first question that pops up is what is sleep hygiene? Well, sleep hygiene consists of environmental changes and overall habits that pave the way for higher quality sleep and overall better health. Good sleep hygiene is all about putting yourself in the best position to sleep well each and every night. 

Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It improves productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone from children to older adults benefit from better sleep and sleep hygiene plays a key part in achieving that goal. Research has demonstrated that good sleep is a central part of health.

Crafting sustainable and beneficial routines will make healthy behaviors automatic and creates an ongoing process of positive reinforcement. On the flip side, bad habits can become somewhat permanent and they cause negative consequences. We all have suffered from sleepless nights at one point or another in our life, wondering what it would take to finally fall asleep and wake up fresh.

Various studies worldwide have shown that almost one in every three people suffer from sleep-related problems. This is a very significant yet ignored problem. Improving sleep hygiene has little cost and virtually no risk, which makes it an important part of strategy to counteract the serious problems of insufficient sleep and insomnia.

Signs of Poor Sleep Hygiene 

So, let's first begin with a few signs of poor sleep hygiene. 

  • Having a hard time falling asleep. 
  • Experiencing frequent sleep disturbances.
  • Suffering daytime sleepiness. 

These are all tell-tale signs of poor sleep hygiene and the long-term consequences of this include:

  • Having a poor concentration and memory.
  • Low performance on our jobs or our schools. 
  • Increased risk of mental health disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse. 
  • Increased risk and severity of long-term diseases and conditions like high blood pressure and heart diseases.
How much sleep you need in a day

How do you practice good sleep hygiene?

Optimizing your sleep schedule, pre-bed routine, and daily routines is a part of harnessing habits to make good-quality sleep feel more automatic. At the same time, creating a pleasant bedroom environment can be an invitation to relax and doze off. A handful of tips can help in each of these areas.

You can adopt them and fit in your circumstances and create your own sleep hygiene checklist to help get the best sleep possible. 

1. Set your sleep schedule 

Having a set schedule normalizes sleep as an essential part of your day and gets your brain and body accustomed to getting the full amount of sleep that it requires. 

Have a fixed wake-up time

Regardless of whether it's a weekday or weekend, try to wake up at the same time since a fluctuating schedule keeps you from getting into a rhythm of consistent sleep. 

Prioritize sleep 

It might be tempting to skip sleep in order to work, study, socialize, or exercise, but it's vital to treat sleep as a priority. Calculate a target bedtime based on your fixed wake-up time and do your best to be ready for bed around that time each night.

Start to make gradual adjustments. 

If you want to shift your sleep times, don't try to do it all in one single attempt because that is rarely successful. Instead, make small, step-by-step adjustments of up to an hour or so, so that you can get adjusted and settle into a new schedule.

Don't overdo it with naps. 

Naps can be a handy way to regain energy during the day, but they can throw off sleep at night. To avoid this, try to keep naps relatively short and limit them to early afternoon.

2. Follow a nightly routine 

How you prepare for bed can determine how easily you'll be able to fall asleep. Keep your routine consistent. Following the same steps each night, including things like putting on your comfortable night clothes and brushing your teeth, can reinforce in your mind that it is bedtime.

Budget 30 minutes for winding down. 

Take advantage of whatever puts you in a state of calm, such as soft music, light stretching, reading, or relaxation exercises. 

Dim your lights

Try to keep away from bright lights because they can hinder the production of melatonin. A hormone that your body creates to facilitate sleep. 

Unplug from electronics

Build in a 30-60 minute pre-bed buffer time that is device-free. Cell phones, tablets, and laptops cause mental stimulation that is hard to shut off and they also generate blue light that may decrease melatonin production. You can also test various other methods of relaxation.

Instead of making falling asleep your goal, it's often easier to focus on relaxation. Meditation, mindfulness, paced breathing, and other relaxation techniques can put you in the right mindset for bed. 

Don't toss and turn around

It helps to have a healthy mental connection between being in bed and actually being asleep. For that reason, if after 20 minutes you haven't gotten to sleep, get up, stretch, read, or do something else, calming in low light before trying to fall asleep again. It's not just bedtime habits that play a part in getting good sleep.

Incorporating positive routines during the day can support your circadian rhythm and limit sleep disruptions. Get adequate daylight exposure. Light, especially sunlight, is one of the key drivers of circadian rhythms that can encourage quality sleep.

You should be physically active as regular exercise can make it easier to sleep at night and also delivers a host of other health benefits. 

Don't smoke. 

Nicotine stimulates the body in ways that disrupt sleep, which helps explain why smoking is correlated with numerous sleeping problems.

Reduce alcohol consumption

Alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep, but the effect wears off, disrupting sleep later in the night. As a result, it's best to moderate alcohol consumption and avoid it later in the evening.

Cut down on caffeine in the afternoon and evening. 

Because it's a stimulant, caffeine can keep you active even when you want to rest, so try to avoid it later in the day. Also, be aware if you're consuming lots of caffeine try to make up for lack of sleep. 

Don't dine late

Eating dinner late, especially if it's a big, heavy, or spicy meal, can mean you're still digesting when it's time for bed. In general, any food or snacks before bed should be on the lighter side.

Optimize your bedroom

A central component of sleep hygiene beyond just habits is your sleep environment. To fall asleep more easily, you want your bedroom to be a supportive and comfortable environment. While what makes a bedroom comfortable can vary from one person to the next, but these tips can help to make your bedroom calm and free of disruptions. 

Have a comfortable mattress and pillow: Your sleeping surface is critical to comfort and pain-free sleep, so choose your mattresses and pillows wisely. 

Use good beddings: The sheets and blankets are the first thing you touch when you get into bed, so it's beneficial to make sure they match your needs and preferences.

Set a cool yet comfortable temperature: Fine-tune your bedroom temperature to suit your preferences, but prefer it on the cooler side.

 Block out the light: Use heavy curtains or an eye mask to prevent light from interrupting your sleep. 

Drown out noise: Earplugs can stop noise from keeping you awake, and if you don't find them comfortable, you can try a white noise machine or even a fan to drown out bothersome sounds.

Try calming scents: Light smells such as lavender may include a calmer state of mind and help cultivate a positive space for sleep. 

Is Sleep Hygiene The Same For Everyone?

Now the question arises, is sleep hygiene the same for everyone? The basic concept of sleep hygiene, that our environment and habits can be optimized for better sleep, applies to just about everyone.

But what ideal sleep hygiene looks like varies from person to person. For that reason, it's worth testing out different adjustments to find out what helps your sleep the most. People who have serious insomnia or sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea may benefit from better sleep hygiene, but other treatments are usually necessary as well.

If you have long-lasting or severe sleeping problems or daytime sleepiness, it's best to talk with your doctor who can recommend the most appropriate course of treatment. 

Closing thought 

Well, with that, we come to an end of our post on sleep hygiene. I hope you learned something new from the post which will help you with your sleep.

If you like this post, don't forget to share it with your friends and family. If you like our content and would like to see more, consider subscribing to our blog by clicking the Follow button below. 


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2. Vitale KC, Owens R, Hopkins SR, Malhotra A. Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. Int J Sports Med. 2019 Aug;40(8):535-543. doi: 10.1055/a-0905-3103. Epub 2019 Jul 9. PMID: 31288293; PMCID: PMC6988893.

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