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Sleep Hygiene: Definition, Types, Techniques, Effectiveness

Sleep hygiene is about your sleeping habits, which play a vital role in your overall health. Good sleep hygiene means practicing daily routines that support your body’s natural ability to fall asleep, achieve deep sleep, and stay asleep through the night. Practicing good sleep hygiene means you’re more likely to wake up rested.

This article will go into more detail about the basics of sleep hygiene, why good sleep habits are important for your health, and how you can get a good night’s sleep.

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Definition

Sleep hygiene is about the behaviors you adopt that allow you to fall asleep and stay asleep on a regular basis.

Sleep hygiene takes into account the following elements:

  • The foods and drinks you eat
  • Your daily schedule
  • Level of physical activity throughout the day
  • what you do at night

How it works

Sleep hygiene works by preparing you for the best night’s sleep possible. And while sleep hygiene habits begin during the day, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explains that the most impactful time is in the hours before bedtime. These evening hours impact your sleep hygiene by contributing to sleep quality or insomnia.

Types of sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is generally measured in terms of good, poor or fair levels. This means either you have good habits, or you have good habits and some that interfere with a good night’s sleep, or you have many bad sleep habits that contribute to poor sleep hygiene.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a good night’s sleep for most adults as follows:

  • Get seven or more hours of sleep per night
  • Feel rested after waking up
  • Feeling awake during the day (i.e. not feeling rested)

Poor

Poor sleep hygiene is considered to be sleeping less than the recommended seven hours per night. Over time, poor sleep hygiene leads to sleep deprivation and contributes to the risk of developing sleep disorders like insomnia. According to the CDC, more than a third of all American adults do not sleep well.

Poor sleep hygiene is also a known risk factor for:

When to see your health care provider

Poor sleep can be hard to detect, especially if you sleep alone. Signs that you’re not getting a good night’s sleep include:

Tips for better sleep hygiene


Improving your sleep habits can help reduce the risk of developing physical health problems, mental health problems, and sleep disorders.

Here are some ways experts recommend to improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Establish and stick to a consistent sleep schedule that you can stick to every day of the week.
  • Make sure the sleep schedule allows for at least seven hours of sleep.
  • Avoid going to bed unless you are ready to sleep; for example, don’t go to bed earlier to scroll your phone.
  • Limit bed use to sleep and sex.
  • Set up your environment for success (e.g. cool, dark room, appropriate bedding, etc.).
  • Limit or avoid stimulant substances like nicotine, caffeine and alcohol (especially later in the day).
  • Avoid looking at screens too close to bedtime (for example, turn off electronic devices 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime).
  • Limit the amount and type of food eaten a few hours before bedtime (i.e. don’t eat large (or spicy) meals or fill up on heavy, processed snacks just before trying to sleep).
  • Establish a bedtime routine within an hour of trying to sleep (for example, take a warm bath, wash your face, meditate, or listen to a sleep story).
  • Limit naps to 20 minutes (and avoid them if possible).
  • Get an adequate amount of physical activity.

Exercise for sleep hygiene

A body of research shows that exercising for even 30 minutes a day can improve a person’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. The benefits of exercise for sleep can be felt within days or weeks, provided you do your best to stay as consistent as possible with some form of activity.

Efficiency

Researchers say good sleep hygiene practices are one of the most important factors that contribute to a person’s quality of sleep. In other words, it’s always a good choice to try to improve your sleep hygiene.

A better night’s sleep has been shown to not only help with feelings of restlessness. A study of college students, who are a high-risk group for sleep problems, found that sleep hygiene played a direct role in improving depression and overall feelings of well-being.

Research has linked sleep disturbances to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and active suicidal behavior. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call 988 to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and get in touch with a qualified counsellor.

Summary

Sleep hygiene is about a person’s sleeping habits. These daily behaviors have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep and the duration of your night’s rest. Over time, not getting enough sleep (aka having poor sleep hygiene) can contribute to health issues, including physical health issues and mental health issues. Working on improving your sleep hygiene by following better sleep tips will help you rest better and improve your overall health.

A word from Verywell

There are many more reasons than those listed here for poor sleep, including chronic pain or having a sleeping partner with poor sleep hygiene. If you’re having trouble getting better sleep and adding these tips to your daily routine, you might want to consider contacting your healthcare provider and learning about the benefits of seeing a sleep specialist or doing a study. some sleep.

Verywell Health only uses high quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact check and ensure our content is accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

By Michelle Pugle

Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate, accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic disease and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.