The 1 Sleep Hygiene tip you need

Posted on 11 April 2021

The 1 Sleep Hygiene tip you need

Sleep hygiene is about having an environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. The most basic element of sleep hygiene is often overlooked.


You have to get the basics of sleep hygiene right

You can do all the tricks: night lights on screens, meditation to fall asleep or avoiding exercise at night. But if your routine is out of kilter, your sleep will never be optimised. Even adults need a bedtime. Consistency is king because our bodies love routine when it comes to sleep.

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But what is the evidence for sleep hygiene?

Back in 2002, a group of researchers in Louisian did a cross-sectional study - taking a selection of people from a population and measuring parameters at one point in time - of over 120 Psychology students. They asked them to fill out 2 surveys: the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Sleep Hygiene Awareness & Practice Scale. They were looking to see the correlation between sleep hygiene awareness and practice and the quality of sleep the students got.


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What they found is that people with variable sleep schedules had poorer quality sleep. They also found associations of going to bed thirsty, noisy environments and worrying with poor sleep. So having a bedtime and a relaxed sleep environment are clearly very important, particularly in the context of Pandemic Fatigue and Pandemic Burnout where it is more difficult to maintain our usual energy levels.

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How can I use sleep hygiene to keep a consistent bedtime?

As we saw in the definition of sleep hygiene, this is all about routine. You need consistency in the time leading up to bedtime too, such that your body is already preparing for sleep. So not only do you want to set a bedtime but you will also want to maintain a consistent routine before going to be every night.

For me personally, this means drinking water, washing my face, brushing my teeth, reading a chapter of the book I am currently reading and listening to a meditation to help me sleep. This whole routine takes 30-45 minutes.

You can create a routine that suits your lifestyle but the key is to do the same things in the same order each night. Building that consistency gives your body consistent messages as to when it should wind down for sleep. It seems like really simple and even patronising advice, but we all make excuses as to how busy or stressed we are and actually the simplest things have the most impact when we are off our game.


The daily habits of sleep hygiene

These are as simple habits as they come. Bedtime and bedtime routine.

Go to sleep at 10.30pm

Set yourself a bedtime that you can stick to. If you are far away from your target bedtime, nudge it 15 minutes earlier every couple of days or so until you’re there.

Bedtime routine at 10pm

Plan out your bedtime routine and know how long it takes. That way you can define a time relative to your bedtime that it should start. Remember sleep hygiene is about routine.

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Reference

  1. Brown FC, Buboltz WC Jr, Soper B. Relationship of sleep hygiene awareness, sleep hygiene practices, and sleep quality in university students. Behav Med. 2002 Spring;28(1):33-8. doi: 10.1080/08964280209596396. PMID: 12244643.

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