It is common to have poor quality sleep due to acute stressors throughout the day or environmental disturbances. However, we can minimise the impact that stress and our environment have on our sleep by practising good sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is a term that is used to describe lifestyle interventions that help us prepare for sleep. Good sleep hygiene practices focus on replacing stimulating activities with relaxing activities, or inactivity, to establish a regulated circadian rhythm. It is important to break bad sleep hygiene habits because prolonged bad sleep hygiene can cause behavioural conditioning towards ‘expecting’ to have a bad sleep.
Good sleep is considered to have the following qualities:
- Latency (how long it takes to get to sleep) should be less than 30 minutes.
- Duration should be between 7 and 9 hours.
- You should wake feeling refreshed.
Things to avoid in the evening:
- Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, hot and pungent food.
- Excess chocolate, sugar or large meals.
- Physical or mentally stimulating activity 2 hours before bed.
Healthy habits to practice:
- Creating a comfortable bed and environment.
- Limit noise and address snoring bed partners.
- Establish a routine bedtime and time to wake up.
- Reduce evening light and increase morning light.
- Quiet relaxing activities and techniques such as reading, meditating,
warm aromatherapy baths, kind conversation and gentle massage.