The Importance of Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene

James Wilson
October 27, 2018
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If you could do one thing to vastly improve your health, sleep might not be at the top of your list. But it should be.

Because we effectively shut off when we’re dozing, we don’t tend to think much about sleep. It’s not until that sleep gets interrupted that we understand the impact of sleep on our lives.

Health impact of poor sleep

You know you’re going to feel groggy if you haven’t been getting good rest, but do you know that lack of sleep can have a long-term negative effect on your health?

Below are a few of the problems you may experience from poor sleep patterns:

Increased risk of chronic disease

Studies have shown that people who don’t get adequate sleep (6 to 8 hours) each night are more prone to developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Poor judgment

Insomnia can take a major toll on your judgment and perception. This can lead to workplace accidents car accidents, and missed opportunities.

Memory problems

Sleep is a crucial component of learning and memory. Without sleep, you will not be able to learn and/or recall information as you normally would. This is why it’s always a good idea to get a good night’s rest before a big presentation or exam.

Tips for practicing good sleep hygiene

If you aren’t getting a good night’s rest, there could be a variety of reasons. You may not be going to bed early enough, or you might be under too much stress. The good news is that there are things you can do to help fall asleep faster and get a better overall rest. Try any or all of these tips for practicing good sleep hygiene.

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Set your own bedtime

Do you stay up entirely too late, binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix or scrolling through Facebook? You’re definitely not alone there, but this is the first change you must make in order to practice good sleep hygiene.

Set an earlier bedtime and stick to it. Start by allowing yourself at least 8 hours of sleep and see how that goes. If you sleep 8 hours each night for two weeks and wake before your alarm, you can push your bedtime back in 15-minute increments.

Evaluate your sleep space

If you live in a big city or have noisy neighbors, you may want to invest in a white noise machine to block out some of the disturbing sound waves. Plants are also helpful at buffering noise and cleaning the air, which can have a big impact if you tend to snore. Also, take a good hard look at your mattress. If it is more than a few years old, you may need a new one. This is especially true if it’s sagging or if you can feel springs in your back. According to an expert I spoke with from Mattress Clarity, finding the perfect mattress isn’t easy, but any upgrade should make a positive difference in your sleep.

Start exercising

If you aren’t exercising regularly already, now is a good time to start. The simple act of exerting energy will wear you out and make you feel more tired at night. Try to get your workouts in early because a workout before bed could make you feel too energized.

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Limit caffeine

If you’re having serious sleep trouble, it’s time for serious action. Limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee daily. And cut out the afternoon cup entirely. Coffee has an effect on your body that’s similar to stress, and that’s not what you want anywhere near bedtime.

No more nightcaps

A lot of people who have trouble sleeping will rely on a glass of wine or liquor at night to help “relax” them. But alcohol can have the opposite effect, especially when you have more than one glass. You may drift off to sleep easier, but you are less likely to have a restful sleep. You may not even realize that your sleep wasn’t stellar, but you’ll feel the effects in the form of grogginess the next day.

If you’re currently struggling to get a good night’s sleep, there’s hope. Continue to practice good sleep hygiene and over time, you’ll find that good sleep comes much easier.