5 Tips and Tricks for Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is the great unifier. Whoever you are, and whatever you do for a living, we all need those precious hours of nighttime recharging to be able to function effectively in the world. Getting a good night’s sleep is an essential part of looking after yourself – study after study has shown the benefits health and overall disposition.
And yet, it’s also something that a surprising amount of people struggle with. According to the National Institute of Health, anywhere from 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Even more shockingly, 1 in 3 adults do not regularly get the recommended amount of uninterrupted sleep needed to maintain good health.
This isn’t great. Due to our society’s focus on productivity and work, sleep has started to be perceived as somewhat frivolous; an optional diversion that can be bypassed if you just tough it out. Of course, this is far from the truth, and not getting enough restful sleep can have catastrophic consequences for your health.
As times change and work becomes more intermingled with our personal lives, it’s more important than ever that we set clear boundaries and protect our precious restful sleep in order to protect our health.
Some people even turn to sleep medicine unnecessarily in order to improve their sleep quality, when simply enacting a few lifestyle changes can be enough. So let’s delve into some sleep hygiene tips to ensure you’re getting the sleep you need.
What is sleep hygiene?
The first time you hear the term “sleep hygiene” you may think it has to do with keeping your bedroom clean (it doesn’t, but that’s still a good idea!). According to The Sleep Foundation, sleep hygiene refers to practices and daily routines that facilitate consistent, uninterrupted sleep.
Making sure you get healthy sleep is hugely important for both your physical and mental health. Not only will it help you feel better in your day-to-day life, it will stave off cognitive decline from lack of quality sleep, help your nervous system, help you prevent anxiety disorders, daytime tiredness, and chronic insomnia.
5 tips to improve your sleep quality
Practicing good sleep hygiene is all about building those healthy habits around sleep and habits aren’t easy to build (let alone break). So each one of these tips is going to be a bit of a struggle to put into practice and will require a lot of effort. That’s how it goes when you’re trying to rewire your brain and change your behavioral patterns. So be patient as you try to put these tips for better sleep into practice.
1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Consistency is key. Anyone who has ever tried to break themselves out of a bad habit knows that the most important thing is to be consistent. When it comes to improving your quality and quantity of sleep, this is even more important. None of these tips we’re about to list out will do any good if you don’t apply them consistently.
Aside from the habit-forming benefits of consistency, our bodies need a consistent sleep schedule. There’s a good amount of research that suggests that maintaining a consistent sleep schedule will improve the overall quality and quantity of your rest, as well as lower risk of heart disease.
This is because our bodies’ internal clocks, or circadian rhythms, thrive on consistency. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule will help you get better quality rest, but it will also aid in other essential bodily processes. Everything from your heart rate, your blood pressure, and other cardiovascular functions follow these circadian patterns.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, consistent restful sleep can also help you avoid human mistakes linked to tragic accidents. Work on creating a solid sleep schedule and try to stick to it. Go to bed at the same hour every day and avoid long daytime naps. You’ll get better quality rest, resulting in better overall health.
By keeping a consistent sleep schedule, you’ll get better sleep and feel more alert and in control in the daytime. You’ll be in a better mood, you’ll have an easier time making decisions, and you’ll generally feel like the best version of yourself.
2. Be physically active during the day
Your sleep quality will improve dramatically if you exercise regularly. Even as little as 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day can have a huge effect on the quality of your sleep as well as your overall health.
Moderate aerobic exercise has been found to increase the amount of slow wave sleep you can get. This is the deep sleep that rejuvenates your mind and body. A quick daytime workout is going to help you achieve this deep sleep phase more effectively.
And that’s another important point: you should be working out in the daytime. If you try to work out within a couple of hours of your bedtime, you might find yourself struggling to fall asleep. This is because aerobic exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which creates a level of activity in your brain that might keep you awake.
For the best effect, try to exercise at least 2 hours before going to bed, which gives your brain time to wind down. Exercising in the early afternoon is also good. If you want to make sure you’re fully relaxed, you can take a nice warm bath after exercising and before bed. Try some relaxation techniques, put on some soothing music, or drink some herbal tea.
Finally, where you exercise might also have an effect. If you exercise outside during the daytime, that’s even better. Exposure to natural light will help regulate your sleep cycle. If you can’t go outside to exercise, that’s okay – even indoor exercise will be a great benefit to your sleep and overall health.
3. Avoid coffee, caffeine, and large meals before bedtime
Ah yes, coffee – the fuel that propels many of us through life. Unfortunately, caffeine is one of the substances that has the most detrimental effect on your sleep quality and its effects can last anywhere from 3 to 7 hours after you’ve consumed it. So that 4 p.m. cup of coffee may keep you feeling alert much longer than you were planning.
If you must drink coffee, stick to the morning hours. This is the safest time to do it as it’s the farthest from your bedtime. However, there are different levels of caffeine tolerance, so some folks might be able to safely drink coffee later in the day.
As far as eating before bedtime, you might have heard conflicting pieces of advice. But the science is pretty conclusive that no, you should not eat before bedtime, especially large meals. In fact, it is recommended that you stop for food intake at least 3 hours before bedtime.
The reason is pretty simple: when you eat close to your bedtime, your body is going to be working to digest food. Digestion diverts resources away from some of the most restorative aspects of sleep. This will keep you from getting the restful sleep you need. Not only will it cause you trouble falling asleep, the actual quality of your sleep will be greatly impacted as well.
Additionally, eating late can mess with your circadian rhythm, which will further complicate sleep down the line.
4. Avoid devices
This one might be painful for some of us. It was certainly painful for me. But as it turns out, lying in the dark with a bright screen pointed at your face (not to mention instant access to all of the world’s information) isn’t exactly conducive to a restful sleep. And while falling asleep to the glow of a TV set sounds like it could be nice, your bright LED screen is more likely to keep your eyes peeled open.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends in its tips for better sleep that you stop using any and all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. As it turns out, these devices interfere with sleep by suppressing the production of melatonin, which is a natural hormone that our bodies release in the evening to help us prepare for sleep. This will make you feel more alert overall, when you should be getting ready for bed.
There are several reasons for this. One of them is the fact that fluorescent and LED screens emit blue light, which reduce and delay feelings of sleepiness, as well as reduce the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye movement sleep.
These stages of sleep are extremely important for cognitive functioning. So not only do devices make it harder for you to fall asleep, but sleep quality is also affected.
If you’re having trouble sleeping and you’re not sure why, this may be a good place to start. If you want to practice good sleep hygiene, you’ll find that avoiding devices in bed will make falling asleep considerably easier. That is, of course, once you actually train your brain to do so.
Reach for a book instead of your phone. You’ll find it much more conducive to better sleep, and ultimately more rewarding.
5. Create a comfy sleep environment
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the amount of people who neglect this point. Creating a restful environment that’s comfortable is extremely important for good sleep and it’s sadly an often overlooked aspect to sleep hygiene.
So whether it’s getting a mattress that fits your preferences and body type, getting comfortable bed sheets that feel nice against your skin (such as the Mellanni 100% Organic Cotton 400 Thread Count Bed Sheet Set) or even making sure that you’re using comfortable pillows (such as the Mellanni MicroFiber Pillow set) – it all adds up.
Comfort is important. When you’re comfortable, not only are you able to fall asleep faster, but you are also able to sleep better and longer. And yes, there is a matter of personal preference here, so there’s no one catch-all solution (your bed partner and you might disagree on what “most comfortable” means, so a compromise has to be made sometimes).
But having a comfortable mattress, comfortable bedding, and a nice sleeping environment will help you stay in that critical, restorative stage of deep sleep longer. You’ll be relaxed instead of constantly readjusting your sleeping position and disturbing your sleep.
How to create a comfortable bedroom environment
Everything from the feel of your bedding to a comfortable temperature and the colors you use to decorate play a part in creating your sleep environment. Maximizing your rest and making sure you get the best quality sleep possible is all about fine-tuning these details. Let’s dig into that a bit more.
Choose soothing colors
You might be thinking, “huh? What do colors have to do with sleep?” As it turns out, quite a bit! Creating a comfortable sleep environment isn’t just about the physical feel of it, it’s also about the emotions it elicits in you. And that has as much to do with your color selection as with anything else.
You want to aim for a calming environment, so look for nice, soothing colors; nothing too stimulated or overly saturated. Gentle blue palettes are a good way to go, as they remind us of a wide open sky, or a calm ocean. Similarly, natural greens that evoke nature can also help you sleep better.
Darker colors are also good. You can use darker greens and/or blues to create a “cocoon” like effect that will make you want to nestle up comfortably and come out the next day feeling renewed.
Make your room dark and quiet
Keeping your sleeping environment quiet is extremely important. The goal should be to protect against unwanted and disruptive sounds, as these will interfere with your regular sleep routine.
Since noise is most disruptive during the light stages of sleep, it can make it hard to fall asleep. If you’re the kind of person who falls asleep with the TV on, maybe rethink that – not only due to the detrimental effects of screens on sleep (see our point about avoiding technology above), but also due to the ongoing effects of noise as you sleep.
You see, even if you’ve already fallen asleep, the sleeping brain will continue to register and process sound. Even if the noise doesn’t wake you up fully, it’s likely that it will cause restlessness in your sleep and have a detrimental effect on your sleep quality. It might even keep you from moving into the deeper stages of sleep altogether and cause fragmented sleep.
So how do you keep your room quiet? For some, this may be out of our control – shout out to my fellow city apartment dwellers – but even in those cases, there are steps you can take to mitigate the amount of noise that seeps into your sleeping environment.
Keep your windows closed to limit the amount of noise that comes in from outside.
Use carpets and floor coverings to help muffle noise from outside.
Try white noise, such as soothing ocean sounds, to block disruptive noise from outside. A lot of people find this sleeping aid very useful. Radio static, an air conditioner, or a running fan can all simulate white noise. Because it’s mixed-frequency and patternless, it won’t disturb your sleep.
Similarly, you can find sounds like breaking waves, rain, or wind on streaming playlists. Many people find these types of sounds help block out other noises, and achieve better and more restful sleep.
Finally, grab some earplugs. They are a quick, easy, affordable way to limit the amount of noise you’re exposed to in bed. Just make sure they’re soft and flexible so you don’t start finding them uncomfortable after a while.
A comfortable sleep environment should also be dark. Bright lights like street lamps (or even the sun, if you’re a late sleeper) can disrupt sleep and have you up long before your ideal wakeup time. Invest in a good pair of blinds to ensure that light pollution doesn’t get in the way of your much-needed restful sleep.
Why does this happen? As it turns out, the absence of light sends a signal to the body that it is time to rest. This is why exposure to light at the wrong time can mess with your circadian rhythm, the biological mechanism that regulates your sleep-wake cycles. Not only does this affect the quantity of your sleep, it also has a detrimental effect on the quality of it.
Invest in good bedding
As we mentioned earlier, comfort is much more important than you might think. Investing in good bedding is an important step towards ensuring your sleeping space is as comfortable as possible. Nice, comfortable sheets will make it easier for you to relax and fall asleep quicker.
Good quality bedding also helps regulate your body temperature. Most people sleep better when their body is cool, and so it is important that the sheets you’re using don’t make you too warm and uncomfortable. High quality sheets like the Mellanni Queen Sheet Set - Hotel Luxury 1800 Bedding aren’t only extremely comfortable, they’re also very durable and will last you a long time.
For similar reasons, a good pillow is also essential. A good pillow will keep your head aligned with the neck and backbone, creating a neutral position that will be naturally comfortable and help you stay asleep for longer. And if you’re the type of person who likes to grab on to a body pillow at night, try the Mellanni Premium Body Pillow.
Our recommendations for the best products to improve your sleep
Once you’ve made the decision to invest in top-quality bedding to upgrade your sleep experience, it’s time to start looking. Thankfully, Mellanni offers many high-quality bedding options for you to pick from. Here’s a quick selection:
Organic Cotton Bed Sheet Set
This organic cotton bed sheet set is naturally breathable and absolutely luxurious, boasting the perfect combination of softness and crispness. These sheets will help you get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed with their gorgeously smooth 100% certified organic long-staple combed cotton.
100% hypoallergenic and free from harmful chemicals.
Extremely easy to look after; no pilling, shrinkage, or fading.
These sheets will become increasingly softer with each wash.
Beautiful array of colors to choose from.
A fantastic gift for anyone in your family.
The 1800 collection bed sheet set is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a comfortable, silky soft, luxurious sleep experience at an accessible price point. It’s made of high-quality double-brushed microfiber, so not only does it feel heavenly against your skin, it’s also guaranteed to last.
These sheets are available in a wide range of light tones, so you’ll be able to pick colors you find the most soothing. These sheets will help you enjoy the best sleep of your life, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.
The 1800 Bed Sheet Set features:
Deep pocket design, fighting up to 16” mattress.
Fitted sheet with elastic, ensuring that your sheet stays put.
High quality double brushed microfiber for durability (not to mention incredibly soft feel).
Fade, stain, shrink and wrinkle resistant materials.
Comes with 1 fitted sheet, 1 flat sheet, 2 pillowcases.
An incredible selection of colors to fit your decor.
For many, a body pillow is a great way to get a good night’s sleep. Its length and shape make it a perfect tool to provide supportive comfort and pressure relief during sleep, helping you stay in deep sleep for longer.
A body pillow like the Mellanni Premium Body Pillow helps sleepers align their head, neck, and back with ease, reducing pressure on the shoulder and hips. This prevents body aches and pains in the morning.
Not only that, but a body pillow can also help those who suffer from snoring and sleep disorders like sleep apnea by helping them achieve a neutral sleep position and improve their sleep quality, resulting in a good night’s rest.
This premium body pillow is great for side, front, back, and stomach sleepers alike. It’s breathable and skin friendly, with a no-shift construction that ensures it won’t sleep out from underneath.
Feels fluffy but also firm.
Supports any sleeping position.
Easy and quick bounce-back.
Breathable cotton-blend shell.
100% virgin polyester fiber filling.
Great for any season.
54” long, ensuring full-body comfort.
Good sleep hygiene is more than just about comfort. It’s about making the most of the precious hours of rest you get every night. And while building new habits (or breaking old ones) is always difficult, by taking a number of small but important steps you can ensure that your sleep is restful and placid.
Get some exercise during the daytime.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Avoid caffeine and large meals 3 hours before bed.
Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet.
Don’t watch TV before bed. Put away your devices.
Invest in comfortable bedding.
As far as products, these are our recommendations:
1800 Bed Sheet Set for a silky-soft sleep experience at a great price point.
Organic Cotton Bed Sheet Set for naturally breathable long-staple combed cotton sheets that won’t shrink, pill, or fade.
Premium Body Pillow to help maintain good sleep posture and align your spine, staying in deep sleep for longer.