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Sleep & Health

What is sleep hygiene?

What is sleep hygiene?

Are you tired of tossing and turning all night, waking up groggy and grumpy, and feeling like you need a caffeine IV to get through the day? You're not alone. In our fast-paced, screen-saturated world, quality sleep often feels like a distant dream. But here's a secret: the key to better sleep may lie in something called "sleep hygiene." What exactly is sleep hygiene, and how can it transform your nights? Let's dive in!

Understanding sleep hygiene

Imagine sleep hygiene as a set of practices and habits that can help you achieve restful and restorative sleep. These habits not only influence the quantity of your sleep but, more importantly, its quality. Think of it as a bedtime ritual, designed to create the ideal sleep environment and prepare your mind and body for a night of blissful rest.

The pillars of sleep hygiene

So, what are the core components of good sleep hygiene? Let's break them down:

Consistent sleep schedule

Your body loves routines. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up refreshed. Yes, that means sticking to your schedule even on weekends!

Need help figuring out your ideal bedtime? Read our article on calculating your bedtime. 

A sleep sanctuary

Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep. Keep it dark, quiet, and cool. Invest in comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress. Banish screens, including TVs and smartphones, which emit blue light that can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle.

Limit stimulants and alcohol

Caffeine and nicotine are notorious sleep disruptors. Avoid them in the hours leading up to bedtime. While alcohol might make you drowsy initially, it can lead to poor sleep quality as the night progresses.

Healthy eating

Heavy meals, spicy foods, and excessive liquids close to bedtime can lead to discomfort and midnight trips to the bathroom. Opt for a light snack if you're hungry before sleep.

Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, but try to finish your workouts at least an hour before bedtime. Exercise can elevate your body temperature and make it more challenging to fall asleep.

Stress management

The worries of the day often haunt us when we're trying to sleep. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or reading a calming book to help ease your mind.

Create a pre-sleep routine

Your body loves cues that bedtime is approaching. Establish a calming pre-sleep routine, such as a warm bath, light stretching, or some gentle reading. Avoid stimulating activities like intense work or emotional discussions in the hour leading up to bedtime.

Napping

Strategically-timed naps can boost alertness and productivity. However, it's important to note that for most adults, the ideal nap duration is around 10-20 minutes. Going beyond this timeframe may lead to deeper sleep. During the later stages of sleep, decreased alertness makes waking up more challenging, increasing the likelihood that you will feel groggy and tired upon waking. Longer naps during the day may also make it more difficult to fall asleep at your usual bedtime, and decrease the quality of your sleep overall. 

When it comes to naps, you should also be mindful of when you choose to nap. It is generally advised to steer clear of napping too close to your regular bedtime. Aim to maintain an eight-hour gap between your nap and bedtime for optimal rest.

Technology time-out

The blue light emitted by screens disrupts your sleep-wake cycle. It’s recommended that you limit screen time at least 30 minutes before bedtime as this can help to signal to your body that it's time to wind down.

For more advice on improving the quality of your sleep, check out our article ‘Tips on how to sleep better’.

The benefits of sleep hygiene

So, why should you care about sleep hygiene? Well, here's what it can do for you:

  1. Improved sleep quality

    You'll fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and enjoy deeper, more restorative slumber.

  2. Enhanced productivity

    With better sleep, you'll wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day. Say goodbye to that groggy, mid-morning slump.

  3. Better mood

    Quality sleep is linked to improved emotional well-being. Say hello to a sunnier disposition.

  4. Optimal health

    Good sleep is essential for overall health. It's associated with lower risks of chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

  5. Sharper mind

    A well-rested brain functions better. You'll find it easier to concentrate, learn, and remember.

In a world that often glorifies late nights and burning the candle at both ends, it's easy to overlook the importance of quality sleep. However, practising good sleep hygiene is a powerful way to reclaim your nights, improve your health, and enhance your daily life. With a few simple changes to your routine and surroundings, you can transform your sleep from a restless struggle to a restful delight. So, why not give it a try? Your well-rested self will thank you for it!


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