Thursday, 23 January 2020

What is Sleep Hygine and why is it important?

Rest and good quality sleep are crucial for both your physical and mental wellbeing. You can’t expect your body or mind to perform at their best if you don’t allow the rest and recovery they both need. A great way to encourage better sleep, is to practice sleep hygiene. 
Now, I’ll admit, when I first heard the term ‘sleep hygiene’ I just assumed it meant being clean before going to bed, and changing the bedding on a regular basis. In actual fact it is defined as certain behaviours and habbits you can include into your evening routine in the lead up to you catching those all-important Z’s.


Maintain a schedule By going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time, you train your body to adopt the routine, commonly referred to as your body clock. I know I’m not the only one who enjoys a long lay in on the weekend, but this could actually be detrimental to your overall sleeping pattern. Your timing should ideally only fluctuate by about half an hour either side.
This is a bit of a struggle for me, as whilst I can maintain set times during the week it all goes to pot on the weekend. I end up going out, staying up until the early hours and then inevitably sleep until the afternoon. I would say however, one night within the week is probably alright to deviate from the schedule, as I maintain it reasonably well the rest of the week.

Don’t stay in bed
A terrible habit for many of us is to lay awake in bed when we can’t sleep. I myself do it, when I’ve got a million things flooding through my brain when I’m trying to sleep I just lay there in the dark. Even worse, I’ll be counting in my head how many hours until I my alarm goes off for the morning.
If you’ve been lying awake with an overactive brain for over 30 minutes, rather than continue to fight a losing battle, the best thing to do is get out of bed. Don’t turn the lights on or grab your phone, the light and the stimulation will just wake you up even more, instead you should go and sit somewhere quiet and let your mind clear until you start to get sleepy. I’ll sometimes pop down to the kitchen, drink some water and then go back to bed.
Reduce light A great way of letting your body know it’s time to sleep, is to give it physical cues to pick up on. By reducing light an hour or so before you actually want to go to bed, you help encourage your body to start the process of shutting down. We have multiple lights in our living room, so I’ll gradually turn them off until we are down to one just before its time to go to sleep. When it does come time to go to sleep, your room should be as dark as possible.
Your bed is for sleep Well, some of the time….
But seriously, as great as it is to read before bed to unwind, you should avoid doing it in bed if you can. The more you associate being in bed with ‘awake’ things the less you’ll associate it with actual sleep. The same goes for phones, computers and watching TV. If you can, keep your bed reserved exclusively for sleeping and sex.

Exercise As well as being good for you physically, exercise will help promote good quality and continuous sleep. That and it helps your body to release endorphins, so will help you with your mood and mental wellbeing as well as your sleep. Although these endorphins may hinder sleep immediately after exercise, so ensure there is a gap to let your body settle again.
Temperature
For the best sleep, the temperature of your room should be slightly cooler. If you can crack open a window to allow a little fresh air in, then even better. That doesn’t mean you should be cold though, and ideally your hands and feet should be warm – so when its cold feel free to break out those fluffy bed socks!

There are many different ways you can promote self-care, so why not give some of the above a try, and see how you feel. I’s just a few small changes to your routine that could leave you feeling better both mentally and physically.



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10 comments

  1. I had never heard the term Sleep Hygiene before. It makes sense though! I don't practice these very well, probably doesn't help that I still co-sleep with my 1 year old - lol. I need to force myself to get more rest!

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    1. I've heard the term but only recently learned what it actually meant. I spent a long time thinking it was about actual hygiene haha.

      Ah, but it does mean you get cuddles though!

      Em

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  2. I have never heard of the term Sleep Hygiene but I agree with all the points in your post. The one thing I have never done is watch TV or be on my phone in bed someone told me years ago that if you do this in bed then when you go to bed your brain won't associate that with sleep and will associate it with watching TV so it makes it harder to switch off. I will need to try out your other suggestions.

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    1. I've always been terrible, in that I watch TV, or I'm on my phone in bed. Since cutting that down I've slept so much better!

      Em x

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  3. Love these tips! My sleep is all over the place at the moment and I'm definitely feeling worse for it. I've been trying to stay out my bed as long as possible every day, I want my body to differentiate my bed and the couch, I often would lay in bed watching tv and working on the laptop so I'm trying to that down. Definitely going to take these onboard.

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

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    1. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes! I watch tv / play on the PlayStation in bed as Mike has the downstairs TV, but one the nights I spend the evening downstairs I sleep so much better.

      Em xx

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  4. I've always had pretty bad insomnia so I've tried just about everything to help sleep at this point. I do think reducing screen time does help though. I would love to be able to stick to a sleep schedule but I always seem to fail with that one x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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    1. I'm terrible. I track my sleep with my Fitbit, and it's all over the place. It has got a lot better since doing the above so I'm hoping the routine helps!

      Em x

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  5. I’d never heard of sleep hygiene although I’d heard some of the tips above. It can sometimes be hard to incorporate everything into a sleeping routine, but it’s definitely something I’ve found to be important! Thanks for sharing these tips 🙂

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    1. I'd heard the term, but thought it was about being clean haha. Little changes every now and then is probably the best way, then it'll slowly become habit!

      Em x

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