WHAT IS SLEEP HYGIENE?
Sleep is a basic and universal human behaviour that is an active and metabolically distinct state, regulated by homeostatic processes and circadian rhythm of the body. Sleep hygiene is a collection of behaviours and environmental conditions that aim to ensure a restorative and quality sleep to avoid or treat sleep disorders. In other words, sleep hygiene consists of recommendations aimed at avoiding behavioural practices that interfere with sleep and practicing behaviours that promote good sleep.
WHY IS SLEEP HYGIENE SO IMPORTANT?
So now you may wonder, why is sleep hygiene something I need to start improving?
Sleep is critical to optimize functioning of the following areas of the body:
The short and long-term effects of sleep issues such as insomnia can be related to a variety of mental wellness concerns, such as increased negative affect, frustration, sadness, and depression. Research indicates that insomnia is both a cause and consequence of depression.
The long-term effects of sleep deprivation and disorders have been associated with a handful of physical health issues, such as increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity
The changing lifestyle in modern society is leading to a deviation in natural sleep-wake patterns, making the burden of sleep disorders and poor sleep quality an emerging public health issue, especially in younger adults due to increased use of various technological devices before sleeping hours, thus creating conflict with the body’s circadian rhythms.
EXAMPLES OF POOR SLEEP HYGIENE INCLUDE:
- Napping during the day
- Sleeping in on weekends
- Exercising before bed
- Playing video games before bed
- Sleeping on an uncomfortable pillow or bed
Sleep schedule and timing (e.g., bedtime not consistent daily, stay in bed after waking up in the morning), arousal-related behaviours (e.g., worry about not being able to fall asleep in bed, checking the time in the middle of the night), poor eating/drinking habits prior to sleep (e.g., going to bed hungry, drinking caffeinated drinks), and poor sleep environment (e.g., sleep environment is either too noisy or too quiet, feeling too hot or too cold during sleep) are all factors that can negatively impact sleep.
WHAT CAN I DO TO FIX MY SLEEP HYGIENE?
So now you may be wondering, what can I do to improve my sleep hygiene? An effective first step is to work on relaxing your mind and body before bed with a healthy night routine. One thing that may be beneficial to add to your routine is engaging in mindfulness exercises. Please see below for a list of YouTube videos and phone applications that provide guided mindfulness exercises such as meditation.
Stay tuned for our sleep series where we will be further examining resources and tools to help improve sleep hygiene.