Did you know there’s a term for your bedtime rituals and nightly habits? Collectively, these behaviors are known as sleep hygiene.

Whether you practice good or bad sleep hygiene is up to you. But if you want to get a better night’s sleep, the answer often begins with improving your sleep hygiene.

What is sleep hygiene?

The rituals, behaviors, and norms you follow around sleep are referred to as sleep hygiene. Regularly pulling all-nighters, or sleeping in on the weekends so you can “make up” for lost sleep are both examples of poor sleep hygiene. Conversely, following a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine late at night are good sleep hygiene practices.

Why is sleep hygiene important?

Good sleep hygiene ensures you consistently enjoy higher-quality, more restful sleep for a sufficient amount of time each night. Bad sleep habits, on the other hand, lead to poor quality and inadequate sleep.

Good sleep on a regular basis is critical to maintaining balanced mental, emotional, and physical health. It helps you stay focused during the day, regulate your mood, and feel more productive and functional on a daily basis.

How to practice good sleep hygiene checklist

Most of us can benefit from improving at least one aspect of our sleep hygiene. Consider the following tips your guide to getting a good night’s sleep.

1. Know how much sleep you need.

Infants under 1 year 16 to 20 hours
1-2 years old 14 hours
3-4 years old 12 hours
5-12 years old 10 hours
13-19 years old 9 hours
Adults & seniors 7 to 8 hours

2. Go to bed the same time every night.

Once you know how much sleep you need, set and follow a regular sleep schedule that provides enough room for it to happen.

Avoid bedtime procrastination at night, which is exactly what it sounds like. Set alarm for the morning and get up the same time every day, even if you had a bad night with frequent awakenings.

Keep your sleep and wake times consistent throughout the week – even weekends. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself experiencing an uncomfortable rebound effect come Monday.

3. Dedicate your bed to sleep and sex, and nothing else.

Remove clutter and items that remind you of work from your bedroom as well, such as your computer. Instead, treat your bedroom as a haven for sleep.

4. Limit screen time before going to bed.

Some people have televisions in their bedrooms, although watching TV right before going to sleep (or worse, during nighttime awakenings) is not a good idea.

5. Limit your daytime naps.

Pay attention to how much you nap during the day. Sometimes naps are essential for that extra productivity boost during a long day, but frequent naps or longer siestas can seriously interfere with nighttime sleep.

6. Watch what you eat and drink, and when.

It’s hard to get to sleep on an empty stomach, but dinner several hours before bedtime is usually enough to hold you over.

7. Limit other substances, too.

Caffeine and alcohol both disrupt sleep. While alcohol may make you drowsy and induce sleep initially, it disrupts your sleep in the latter part of the night.

8. Exercise during the day.

Exercise improves your overall health and it helps physically tire your body towards bedtime.

9. Stay calm when you can’t sleep.

10. Follow a bedtime routine.

11. Find a quiet place to sleep.

12. Keep your bedroom dark and cool.

13. Get help when you need it.

It is possible that you’ll implement all these tips and still not experience improved sleep.

If this is the case, you may have a sleep disorder or another health issue. Keep a sleep diary and talk to your doctor to get help.

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