Sleep hygiene is the daily routine you practice to induce optimal sleep. Just like skin care, washing your face with bar soap vs. a multi-step regime, the more emphasis you put into it and the prioritization that you make it, will have compounding benefits. Think about it, if you have a face full of acne, do you just continue using the same soap and hope for the best? No, you switch to a specific cleanser, the proper lotion, a fancy serum, and the best spot treatment you can get your hands on. The same goes for your sleep, except it’s profoundly more important!
Sleep Hygiene Prep Work
First, don’t set unreasonable expectations for yourself. The most important factor in establishing good sleep hygiene is consistency. When figuring out what works for you, always ask yourself, “will I be able to do this when I travel?” and “would I still complete all these steps when my time is limited?”. If the answer is no to either of these questions, then don’t make it part of your sleep hygiene. Sure, you can pamper yourself and go the extra mile from time to time- and major props for you taking the time to do so! But when it comes to sleep hygiene, establish a baseline. It’s that baseline that will signal to your brain that it’s time to switch to off-mode.
Sleep Hygiene Fundamentals
These are the 3 critical elements to establishing good sleep hygiene:
- Create Darkness 2 to 3 Hours Before Bed
This means turn off your lights and put away anything with a screen. If you must interact with a screen, turn it to night shift. Conversely, you’ll also need to make sure you get enough light during the daytime so that your body recognizes the changeover. Why this is important: Thanks to our caveman predecessors, when the sky gets dark our brain creates melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the body’s internal clock. Daylight (and any light for that matter) tells the brain to stay alert, but when we shift to darkness, it signals to the brain that it’s time.
2. Cool Down Your Living Space, Especially the Bedroom
Whether you turn on the AC or use a fan, decreasing the temperature of your body will help the body transition to sleep. Aim for 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. Why this is important: The body’s internal clock regulates temperature. During the daytime, we are at our warmest and at night, our coolest. We can nudge our body into sleep mode by cooling our surroundings, which in turn, makes the body cooler and sleepy. Our dual chamber air bed has a 3" layer of cooling gel memory foam to ward off disruptive heat.
3. Go to Bed When You’re Tired
If you find that you’re not falling asleep in 20 mins, get out of bed and do something calming and light-free (like listening to relaxing music). Your calming retreat is also applicable if you wake in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting back to sleep. Why this is important: You don’t want to associate your bed as a place of negativity. If you stress over not sleeping and choose to stay in bed, your bed will become a symbol for anxiety. Don’t get angry with yourself, instead, really try enjoying your relaxing activity and return to bed when you start feeling sleepy.
Commit to not skimping on these steps, they are the foundation to long-term sleep success. Again, you can augment them based on your lifestyle- things like eating a light dinner, daily exercise in the morning or afternoon, and using a white noise machine or eye shades.
When we go to sleep, our body’s repair tools go to work, fighting disease and the effects of physical and mental stress, so it’s important for health and happiness that you establish adequate sleep hygiene.