Sleep hygiene is a general term that relates to the overall quality of our sleep and everything that contributes to it. Good sleep hygiene demands a combination of different factors to be favourable, so might take some effort to achieve initially.
One of the easiest ways to improve your sleep hygiene is by introducing a regular bedtime and waking-up time. By sticking to a routine you're effectively training your body, and you'll soon begin to feel tired and energised at the 'right' times. Of course such a schedule may slip at different points, such as weekends or holidays, but by maintaining reasonably regular hours you’ll be able to develop a consistent schedule.
Your lifestyle plays a major part in your sleep hygiene. Your working hours, your social life, your exercising habits and what you do before bed can all determine whether you have regular good quality sleep or not. Aiming for good sleep hygiene needn't negatively impact on your lifestyle, but your lifestyle should never be at the expense of your sleep. By being aware of the importance of sleep you’re actually giving yourself the best chance of fulfilling an active and busy lifestyle without suffering burnout.
The specifics of the bedroom are important factors in sleep hygiene. A comfortable mattress and pillow, bed linen that’s suitable for the particular season, a sedate and calming colour scheme, no distracting electronics, good blackout blinds or curtains and an overall quiet and peaceful environment will all make for a sleep-friendly bedroom. If your bedroom has any distracting or disturbing elements then it could hamper your sleep hygiene efforts elsewhere in your life.
Diet naturally has an impact on your sleep quality. Avoiding stimulating foods and ingredients such as caffeine in the evening, and ensuring that you eat sufficiently and healthily at the right times throughout the day will help ensure that your diet doesn’t harm your sleep hygiene.
If you've introduced measures into your life to improve your sleep hygiene and still find that you’re experiencing difficulty sleeping, then it may be that you’re suffering from a sleep disorder. As with any other medical complaint, sleep disorders must be professionally diagnosed and treated. Make an appointment with your GP to discuss your symptoms and possible courses of action.
Even just considering the idea of sleep hygiene you're making a step towards achieving better sleep. By focusing on the parts of your life that can impact on your sleep, you’re actively working towards a healthier lifestyle.