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What Is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene involves a range of different practices that help you maintain a healthy sleep. Practicing sleep hygiene is vital in the upkeep of both your quality of sleep during the night, and your alertness during the day.

There’s a range of different ways you can help to promote your sleep hygiene, supporting both your physical and mental wellbeing, and overall, your quality of life. This guide will take a look at some of the top ways to promote sleep hygiene, why it’s important to practice this, and how to spot bad practices that can prevent healthy sleep.


Why Is It Important?




Getting into a regular, healthy sleeping pattern is important for both your physical and mental health.

How you feel throughout the day is partly dependent on how you sleep. As we sleep, our bodies work to maintain and support the proper functioning of our brains. Therefore, proper sleep is vital to ensure we’re feeling alert, helping us to perform well throughout the day.

During sleep, the brain is essentially preparing you for the next day, making sure you’re able to learn and retain information effectively. If we don’t get enough sleep, this healthy functioning can be compromised.

Sleep also plays a big role in our physical health, helping us to heal various parts of our bodies, maintain healthy hormonal balances, and develop/grow properly. When you don’t get enough sleep, all these processes can be impacted, damaging your health and proper function of the body.

Therefore, sleep hygiene is necessary for healthy function of the body and brain, further helping to maintain your overall quality of life.


How To Spot Bad Sleep Hygiene 




There are a few common signs of poor sleep hygiene, including the following:

  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Disturbances during sleep
  • Taking a long time to fall asleep

If you’re suffering with any of the issues listed above, it may be good to re-evaluate your sleeping routine, and make improvements where necessary to promote sleep quality. Some changes can be incredibly simple and easy to do, but can also make a world of difference to your sleep quality.


How To Promote Good Sleep Hygiene 



With good sleep hygiene, it’s vital to promote a healthy level of sleep – this means getting enough sleep, but also making sure you don't oversleep. The amount of sleep you need will vary depending a lot on your age. 

The National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council recommends the following amounts of sleep for each different age category:



Recommended Amount of Sleep

Newborns (0 – 3 months)

14 – 17 hours a day

Infants (4 – 11 months)

12 – 15 hours a day

Toddlers (1 – 2 years)

11 – 14 hours a day

Preschoolers (3 – 5 years)

10 – 13 hours a day

School age children (6 – 13 years)

9 – 11 hours a day

Teenagers (14 – 17 years)

8 – 10 hours a day

Younger adults (18 – 25 years)

7 – 9 hours a day

Adults (26 – 64 years)

7 – 9 hours a day

Older Adults (65+ years)

7 – 8 hours a day


Whilst these recommendations are for the average person in these age categories, your sleep needs may also vary depending on additional factors to do with your health and lifestyle. 

You can help to achieve healthy levels of sleep, and thereby promote good sleep hygiene, by practising the following:


  • Avoiding stimulants too close to bed – avoiding caffeine and nicotine when it’s close to your bedtime can help aid along sleep. Additionally, whilst alcohol may make you sleepy, it can lead to disrupted sleep, and thereby reduce overall sleep quality.


  • Establishing a bedtime routine – establishing a set routine before bed can help the body to recognise it’s time for sleep. This can include having a relaxing bath or reading just before sleep.


  • Exercising regularly – exercise has been reported to significantly improve your quality of sleep. Therefore, exercising regularly can help you to promote a healthy sleeping pattern.


  • Limiting naps throughout the day – you can't catch up on night-time sleep through day-time naps, however, a small, 30 minute nap can help to give you a little boost during the day, reported to help improve alertness, performance and mood. 


In addition to all this, you can also help to promote good sleep hygiene through your sleeping environment. Making sure you have a supportive mattress, comfy pillows and blankets, as well as breathable sheets can all help to optimise your bed for sleep.







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