Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good night-time sleep quality and full daytime alertness.
Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It can also improve productivity and overall quality of life. Good sleep hygiene practices include amongst others:
• Limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes. Napping does not make up for inadequate night-time 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. 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 night-time sleep quality. For the best night’s sleep, most people should avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime.
• 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, reading a book, or light stretches.