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Sleep Hygiene Checklist

Get to sleep naturally.

Sleep hygiene is becoming a more and more popular concept. According to the NHS, an estimated 1 in 3 people suffer from mild insomnia or difficulty with sleep. It’s no wonder that so many people are looking for ways to improve how easily they fall, and stay, asleep. Whether you need a more comfortable bed, a less stressful evening, or a room that’s cool and dark, there are lots of ways to help yourself sleep better.  

 

What is sleep hygiene?

The definition of sleep hygiene is a combination of habits and techniques that help you sleep better. It’s the nightly ritual that helps you drift off and stay sleeping, combining all of the different tips for getting a good night’s sleep and avoiding bad sleep habits.   If you struggle to fall asleep easily, or find yourself waking throughout the night, practising good sleep hygiene might help you. Take a look at our checklist below, and see which habits you can change.  

 

What if sleep hygiene doesn’t help? Should I try sleeping pills?

Sleep hygiene is about getting to sleep naturally. If you’re still struggling to get good sleep after trying the techniques, you should speak to your doctor or a sleep specialist.   Sleeping pills can be a form of support, but they should only be used infrequently and under the supervision of a doctor. Regular, consistent or repeated use often becomes habit-forming, which means you end up relying on the pills to get to sleep and finding it difficult – or even impossible – to sleep without them. They also tend to become less effective over time, leading to higher doses, which can be extremely dangerous.  

 

 

Your Sleep Hygiene Checklist:

Room

  • Temperature – you should keep your room cool, preferably between 16 and 20 degrees. The optimal sleep temperature for everyone varies slightly, but will be within this range.

 

  • Light – try to keep your room as dark as possible. Blackout blinds are a good option, especially during the summer – or if you have street lights near your windows. You can get curtains with blackout lining, so you don’t need to sacrifice your bedroom style.

 

  • Comfort – make sure you have a bed that supports you. An uncomfortable bed or mattress will not only disrupt your sleep, it will make going to bed a less than pleasant experience.

 

  • Purpose – keep your bed, and your bedroom, free of clutter and make sure you protect its purpose as somewhere to relax, unwind and sleep.

 

  Food, drink and exercise

  • Caffeine – limit your caffeine intake. You should ideally avoid caffeine after midday. And remember that tea and fizzy drinks also contain caffeine. Avoid alcohol, too. It may make you feel like you fall asleep more easily, but it’s known to disrupt sleep during the night.

 

  • Food – it’s hard to sleep on an empty stomach, but a full stomach can cause disrupted sleep through the night. Aim to eat a couple of hours before bed, and keep snacking to light and easily digestible food if you get peckish.

 

  • Exercise – getting exercise during the day can significantly improve your sleep. You should avoid vigorous exercise before bed – keep that to before 2pm – but relaxation exercises, stretching and gentle yoga are an excellent way to wind down before bed.

 

  Habits

  • Schedule – going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. In an ideal world, your schedule should stay the same – or within about 10-20 minutes either site – every single day. Yes, even at weekends.

 

  • Electronic devices – we all know by now that electronic devices – phones, computers and TV screens – emit a blue light that confuses our bodies and makes it harder to sleep. Good sleep hygiene involves putting all devices with a lit screen away for at least half an hour before bed. At a minimum, you should use a device with ‘night mode’ that reduces the blue light from the screen.

 

  • Napping – limit daytime naps and eliminate them if possible. It’s tough – when you’re tired from not sleeping, it can be extremely difficult to avoid having a nap to try and catch up. If you can’t do without, make sure you keep your naps to under 30 minutes, so you don’t end up feeling worse than when you started.

 

  • Routine – get your mind and body ready for sleep with a nightly routine. You should spend the last 30-60 minutes before bed winding down. Turn off any devices, have a warm bath or shower, do some yoga or meditation and deep breathing, try aromatherapy… Whatever works to help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep.

 

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