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Sleep Hygiene | How To Improve Sleep Quality


Written by Lauren

Last Updated: 16th March, 2022

In summary, sleep hygiene is about maintaining healthy practices to achieve good quality sleep during the day and night. This can include anything which promotes sufficient sleep, such as daily habits, bedroom environment and bedtime routines. 

Practising sleep hygiene is essential as it can help you obtain benefits from getting a good night's sleep. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep has been linked to mood and mental health✓, memory, weight management✓, the immune system✓ and many other benefits. 

Sleep Hygiene Do’s & Don’ts 

There are many practices, routines, and habits that should be considered to improve your overall sleep hygiene. Below is a summary of the key do's and don'ts you want to enhance your sleep quality.

✓ Try drinking a bedtime tea that has been made to promote relaxation and sleep. This could include chamomile, passionflower or lavender tea.✗ It’It'scommended to stay away from coffee or other caffeinated drinks for up to 6 hours before bed as their ability to make you feel alert could still be in your system.
✓ Practising light bedtime yoga or meditation before bed can help you relax and unwind. Regular daily exercise can also help improve sleep quality.✗ Avoid vigorous exercise for at least one hour before bedtime as this can raise the heart rate and adrenaline instead of helping you calm the mind and body for rest.
✓ To help you wind down, try reading or listening to relaxing music before bed. This could include classical music, nature sounds or white noise.✗ For some, using technology directly before sleeping can have a negative impact on sleep due to blue light exposure. If you use technology before bed, try a blue light filter and reduce the volume. 
✓ There are many different types of foods that could help induce sleep. This could include lean protein, almonds and complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain pasta and brown rice.✗ Drinking alcohol before bed can help you fall asleep quickly, but it may cause disruptions throughout the night. Studies✓ have also found that smokers are more likely to experience poor sleep quality and sleep disturbances.
✓ To aid your internal body clock recognise when it's time to sleep, you can minimise light and noise in your bedroom. You can also adjust the temperature for sleeping, which is believed to be around 15 - 22 degrees celsius.✗ Harsh lighting or loud noises can harm sleep quality as it can confuse your internal body clock in knowing when it's time to sleep. Research✓ has also found that artificial bright light exposure at night can suppress melatonin and increase alertness.

Sleep Hygiene Environment

To achieve healthy sleep hygiene, it could prove beneficial to adapt your bedroom environment to promote good quality sleep. This can be done in various ways and doesn't always involve splashing out the cash. 

sleep hygiene environment

A budget-friendly option to encourage a relaxing sleep environment could be to play sleep music before bed. Research✓ has shown that listening to classical music before going to sleep can reduce sleep issues and may help with insomnia. Moreover, you can also access white noise or nature sounds online and through sleep aid websites. Another relaxing alternative is aromatherapy, in which you can purchase candles, pillow sprays or incense with calming scents, such as lavender. 

If you're willing to spend a little more, you could consider a new mattress or bedding to help you stay comfortable. Many people opt for a memory foam mattress as it can provide comfort and support, yet hybrid or pocket sprung mattresses may be better for hot sleepers or those who prefer a firmer surface. For anxious sleepers, you could also purchase a weighted blanket, known for calming and helping with insomnia✓

Bedtime Routine 

While many associate bedtime routines with children, they can also be helpful for adults. Establishing a bedtime routine has been linked to good sleep hygiene as it can help you wind down and relax before bed, which can encourage you to fall asleep faster. There are several steps you can take before settling down for the night, but the key is to be consistent, as this can help your mind and body know when it's time to go to sleep. 

bedtime routine
  1. Avoid eating or drinking less than an hour before bedtime, especially larger meals. Data from an American study✓ found that eating or drinking further away from bedtime can lower the likelihood of nighttime awakenings and unhealthy sleep duration. Moreover, drinking water before bed can lead to untimely bathroom breaks. 
  2. Experts recommend avoiding vigorous exercise at least an hour before bed as it can raise your adrenaline and heart rate, rather than help you to relax. Alternatively, you could try bedtime yoga or sleep meditation to help you wind down for the night. 
  3. Taking a warm bath or shower before bed not only helps with bodily hygiene but also sleep hygiene. Research✓ has found that warming up the body in this manner has been linked to improved sleep quality and sleep efficiency. 
  4. Many acknowledge that using electronics before bed can over-stimulate the brain and reduce melatonin due to blue light exposure. Instead, reading a book before bed can help you relax without harmful effects. A Reading Trial✓ involving 991 people found that 42% of those who read before bed saw an improvement in sleep quality. 
  5. While it can be difficult to establish a regular sleep schedule, it can aid your internal body clock in knowing when it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. Try to keep up a consistent bedtime, allowing for 6 - 9 hours of sleep per night.

Daily Habits 

As well as establishing a consistent bedtime routine, there are also many daily habits that could help improve your sleep hygiene. Below are some practices and routines you can incorporate into your day to help with sleep quality. 

daily habits
  • Exercise: While bedtime yoga can be beneficial, regular exercise can also help improve sleep quality. Exercise can often help to relieve stress and tire the body, which are both beneficial for sleep. Research✓ has also found that physical activity can help improve sleep and reduce symptoms of disordered sleep. 
  • Daylight: Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal body clock, which uses factors, such as noise and light to determine when it’s time to sleep and wake. This connection between light and sleep means that daylight exposure and reduced light at bedtime could help improve sleep quality. 
  • Caffeine: Many people rely on a morning coffee to kickstart the day; however it is recommended to avoid caffeine for up to six hours before bed✓. This includes certain types of tea, chocolate, coffee and fizzy drinks.  
  • Mindfulness: Practicing meditation and mindfulness can help you to calm the mind, focus on breathing and de-stress. If mastered, you can also use these techniques to help you sleep at night. Research✓ has also found that mindfulness meditation could help treat sleep disturbances. 
  • Meals: While this may differ depending on the individual, it could be worthwhile having a larger lunch and a smaller dinner, or having dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime. This is so your body has time to digest and avoid heartburn or acid reflux. 

Good to know!
A study✓ involving 52 healthy volunteers found that eating dinner or late-night snacks close to sleeping time had adverse effects on sleep quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is about maintaining routines and habits during the day and before bed to help improve sleep quality. Sleep hygiene can also include having a sleep-inducing bedroom environment.

How to improve sleep hygiene?

There are several ways you can improve sleep hygiene. This includes creating a comfortable and relaxing sleep environment, as well as having a calming and consistent bedtime routine.

What is good sleep hygiene?

Good sleep hygiene is incorporating routines and practices into your daily life that enable you to maintain sufficient sleep quality.

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