Sleep hygiene concerns your sleep habits, which play a critical role in your overall health. Good sleep hygiene means practicing daily routines that support your body’s natural ability to fall asleep, reach deep sleep, and stay asleep throughout the night. Practicing proper sleep hygiene means you’re more likely to wake feeling rested.
This article will further explain the basics of sleep hygiene, why good sleep habits are important to your health, and how you can get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep hygiene is about the behaviors you engage in that let you fall asleep and stay asleep on a regular basis.
Sleep hygiene takes into consideration the following:
- The foods and beverages you consume
- Your daily schedule
- Level of physical activity throughout the day
- What you do during the evenings
How It Works
Sleep hygiene works by preparing you to experience the best night’s sleep possible. And while sleep hygiene habits start in the daytime, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explains the most impactful time is in the hours leading up to bedtime. These evening hours impact your sleep hygiene by contributing to sleep quality or sleeplessness.
Types of Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is typically measured in terms of good, poor, or fair levels. This means you either have good habits or you have some good habits and others that detract from a good night’s sleep, or you have many poor sleep habits contributing to poor sleep hygiene.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a good night’s sleep for most adults as:
- Getting seven or more hours of sleep per night
- Feeling rested after waking
- Feeling awake during daytime hours (i.e., not feeling rested)
Poor sleep hygiene is seen as getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. Over time, poor sleep hygiene leads to sleep deprivation and contributes to risk of developing sleep disorders like insomnia. According to the CDC, more than one-third of all American adults aren’t getting proper sleep.
Poor sleep hygiene is also a known risk factor for the following:
When to See Your Healthcare Provider
Poor sleep can be hard to detect, especially if you sleep alone. Signs that you’re not getting a good night’s rest include:
Tips for Better Sleep Hygiene
Improving your sleep habits can help reduce risk of physical health conditions and mental health conditions and sleep disorders from developing.
Here are some ways experts recommend improving your sleep hygiene:
- Make and keep a consistent sleep schedule that you can stick to every day of the week.
- Ensure the sleep schedule allows for at least seven hours of sleep time.
- Avoid getting into bed unless ready for sleep; for example, don’t head to bed earlier to scroll on your phone.
- Limit bed use to sleeping and sex.
- Set up your environment for success (e.g., cool, dark room, proper bedding, etc.).
- Limit or avoid stimulating substances including nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol (especially later in the day).
- Avoid looking at screens too close to bedtime (e.g., turn off electronics 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime).
- Limit the amount of food and type of food consumed a few hours before bedtime (i.e., don’t eat a large (or spicy) meal or fill up on heavy, processed food snacks right before trying to sleep).
- Make a bedtime routine in the hour before trying to sleep (e.g., take a hot bath, wash your face, meditate, or listen to a sleep story).
- Limit naps to 20 minutes (and avoid if possible).
- Get an adequate amount of physical activity.
Exercise for Sleep Hygiene
A body of research shows exercising for even 30 minutes a day can improve a person’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. The benefits of exercising for sleep can be felt in a matter of days or weeks, so long as you do your best to stay as consistent as possible with some form of activity.
Researchers say good sleep hygiene practices are one of the most important contributing factors to a person’s sleep quality. In other words, it’s always a good choice to try to improve on your sleep hygiene.
Getting a better night’s rest has been shown to help with more than just feelings of restlessness, too. One study on college students, who are a top risk group for sleep problems, found that sleep hygiene played a direct role in improving depression and feelings of overall well-being.
Research has linked sleep disturbances to increased risk of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and active suicidal behavior. If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, dial 988 to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect with a trained counselor.
Sleep hygiene concerns a person’s sleep habits. These daily behaviors have a significant impact on the quality of sleep you get and how long you’re able to rest for each night. Over time, not getting enough sleep (ie., having poor sleep hygiene) can contribute to health problems including physical health conditions and mental health challenges. Working on improving your sleep hygiene by following better sleep tips will help you get better rest and improve your overall health.
A Word From Verywell
There are many other reasons than those listed here for poor sleep, including chronic pain or having a sleeping partner with poor sleep hygiene. If you’re finding it difficult to get better sleep and add these tips into your daily routine, you may want to consider reaching out to your healthcare provider and asking about the benefits of visiting a sleep specialist or doing a sleep study.
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