Two weeks ago, I introduced the topic of sleep hygiene on this blog. Sleep is vital to our survival as well as both physical and mental health, but so many of us have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving high-quality rest.
Today, let’s look at what factors contribute to good sleep hygiene.
The tricky thing about sleep hygiene is that there is not one ideal routine that works for everyone. Below are factors that contribute to sleep hygiene, and each individual has to explore and determine what is the best fit for them.
- Schedule: Your schedule refers to when you sleep and wake up. Generally, we get the best quality sleep when we go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day, but this is more easily said than done! I for one enjoy sleeping in on the weekends. Not to mention, many people work rotating shifts and might have different demands on their time. Having consistency when you are able can improve your quality of sleep, and making gradual adjustments can help you feel more alert when you wake up.
- Habits: In this context, habits are the things you do throughout your day that contribute to your quality of sleep. For example, I have a habit of drinking coffee every day. For some, drinking coffee after a certain time makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep, so a good sleep hygiene habit might be to discontinue coffee before 3pm. Be mindful of the habits that contribute to better or worse sleep.
- Sleep Space: Your sleep space is…the space where you sleep. Your brain associates different spaces with what you do in those areas, which is why work-life balance can be extra challenging if you work from home. If possible, avoid non-sleep activities where you sleep. This will help your brain understand that being in that space means it’s time for sleep. Be mindful of the type of lighting, sounds, and even smells that you find relaxing and restful, and try to incorporate those into your sleep space.
- Routine: Routines are like vegetables: you might not like them, but they are good for you. When it comes to sleep hygiene, it can be handy to have two 30-minute routines in your day: the 30 minutes before you go to sleep, and the 30 minutes right after you wake up. Having consistent routines around these times cues your brain that it’s time to sleep and time to be awake. There unfortunately is not one ideal routine, since we each have unique needs and preferences, but discovering what helps you can improve both your quality of sleep and how you feel while you are awake!
Throughout this series, I will explore a bit more what each of these aspects of sleep hygiene looks like and how to determine your own needs. As always, consult your care team about what is best for you.
Do you have specific questions about sleep? Let me know, and I will try to answer them.