How would you rank your sleep hygiene?
Does it ebb and flow with the seasons or possibly medication changes?
Sleep hygiene is not about cleanliness. It’s more about ease and quality.
This Sunday (13 March) is daylight savings time or losing time rather as we spring forward and lose an hour. All this means to me is another hour of sleep I wont get.
I’m on record noting my struggles with sleep. I have a hard time falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep and I often wake up feeling tired. In other words my sleep hygiene has been trash. And this has been an ongoing struggle.
Since my last flare and being back on high dose prednisone, I’m getting less sleep than ever.
So I wanted to tweak my bedtime routine and see if there is anything additional I could do to get better rest.
After a little reflection I realized my sleep hygiene stinks.
As I always say, when you know better, you do better so let’s dig into this a bit more because I want y’all to have great sleep hygiene.
the Importance of Sleep
Sleep is as important to the human body as food and water, but many of us don’t get enough sleep. We all know that sleep is a necessity of life (unless you’re a vampire). Adults are recommended to get about 7-9 hours of sleep a night. But I feel like most of us fall short because well life.
And even if we do manage to get 7 hours a sleep, is it really quality sleep? I know mine isn’t quality.
Simply put, not getting enough sleep and not getting quality sleep is poor sleep hygiene for any reason.
Which is unfortunate because our immune system benefits so much from sleep. In fact, overtime unresolved poor sleep hygiene can lead to health issues which is the last thing we need when we’re already dealing with chronic illness.
11 Signs of Poor Sleep Hygiene / Sleep Deprivation
Poor sleep hygiene signs vary from person to person, but in general some symptoms include:
- Dozing off easily when not active
- Grogginess (when first waking up or even that lasts all day)
- Overall tiredness
- Low energy
- Lack of motivation
- Difficult making decisions
- Memory issues
- Inability to focus and concentrate
Causes of Poor Sleep Hygiene
Some common causes of poor sleep hygiene are
- Personal choice – some people don’t realise that the body needs adequate sleep. Instead of regularly going to bed at a reasonable hour, they prefer to stay up late to socialise, watch television or read a good book.
- Illness – illnesses such as colds and tonsillitis can cause snoring, gagging and frequent waking, and have a direct effect on sleep by fragmenting it.
- Work – people who do shift work disrupt their sleep-wake cycles on a regular basis. Frequent travellers (for example, airline crew) also tend to have erratic sleeping patterns.
- Sleep disorder – problems such as sleep apnoea, snoring and periodic limb movement disorder can disturb the person’s sleep many times during the night.
- Medications – some drugs used to treat disorders such as epilepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause insomnia.
- The sleeping environment – sleep may be disrupted for a range of environmental reasons; for example, because the bedroom is too hot or cold or because of noisy neighbours or a snoring bed partner.
- Poor sleep hygiene – some people’s habits are disruptive; for example, drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes close to bedtime stimulates the nervous system and makes sleep less likely. Another common problem is lying in bed and worrying, rather than relaxing.
- Babies, older babies and toddlers – parents almost always experience sleep deprivation because their young children wake frequently in the night for feeding or comfort.
7 Ways to Improve Sleep Hygiene
If you’re looking to improve your sleep hygiene here a few things you can implement.
- Track your sleep. In order to improve your sleep, you need to know which areas to improve on. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the sleep cycle and the sleep stages but each one different.
- Purposefully go to bed earlier each night. Since this is a new habit, you’ll have to plan for 7-9 hours of sleep. Figure out what time you need to get up and count backward to figure out what time you need to be in bed by.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages in the hours before bedtime. Your body can’t rest if it still digesting food or if you have it hopped up on caffeine. Some people say stop consumption 4 hours before bed. I go with 2 hours but see what works for you.
- Improve your sleeping environment in any way you can. For example, keep it dark and sound-proof, turn off lights, put your phone face down, use black out curtains and wear earplugs if you have noisy neighbors.
- Check your temperature. Did you know what our core body temperature has to drop in order to initiate sleep? I believe the ideal temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. So adjust those thermostats or remove some clothes.
- Use relaxation techniques like meditation and aromatherapy to help you fall asleep quickly.
- Seek professional assistance for sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea.
Creating a Bedtime Routine for better Sleep
Those are just a few tips to help improve your sleep hygiene. If you’re interested, I have a simple sleep hygiene checklist or bedtime routine available for download that you can use. Your routine will probably look different than mine because mine was made for me.
Take from that list to create a few bedtime routines and play around with it until you find a routine that works for you. Once you have it down, turn it into a sort of checklist of your own.
Remember to give it time and practice patience and compassion. We don’t want quick fixes, we want lasting results that will yield better quality sleep.