Why sleep hygiene is more than just a fad

Written by Simon Johnson, Co-founder of My Next Mattress

In the age of the internet, advice is plentiful, and trends come and go. But when it comes to lifestyle, there is little argument about the importance of sleep. The amount and quality of sleep we have can affect everything we do, from how productive we are at work and how happy we are at home, to how much weight we carry. That’s why the phrase ‘sleep hygiene’ has become such a common currency. But what does it actually mean, and why is it so important?

What is meant by ‘sleep hygiene’?

Sleep hygiene refers to the positive behavioural and environmental practices that can help foster a good night’s sleep. These include things like having a routine, avoiding screentime before going to bed, and creating a comfortable and relaxing sleep environment. Essentially, anything that can help you sleep more soundly. 

Why is sleep hygiene so important?

The amount and quality of sleep that we have directly impacts our day to day lives. Research has shown that those struggling with sleep deprivation are more likely to eat more and weigh more, be at greater risk of health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, and to suffer from depression. A lack of sleep also impacts our ability to concentrate and control our emotions. None of this is headline news, there are very few people who haven’t snapped at their loved ones or battled through work after a difficult night. But it does underline why it’s so vital to take control of your sleeping habits. 

Tips for creating the optimum sleep space and sleep routine for productive days

Stick to a calming routine

The way that you prepare for bed can make a huge difference to how quickly and well you sleep. Everyone is different, and no one routine will suit all, but it’s worth considering some of the following points.

  • Try to avoid screen time for at least 30 minutes before sleep. Blue light can decrease melatonin production, and the content can stimulate the brain. You’ll be far more ready for sleep without that stimulation. 
  • Lower your lights. The brighter your environment, the slower you will sleep. 
  • Consider relaxation techniques. Whether it’s meditation, breathing exercises, or simply listening to gentle music, the more relaxed you are, the sooner you’ll sink into sleep.
  • Try to stick to the same routine. By creating a calming routine, which you follow on a daily basis, you are gently coaching your brain and body towards a relaxing night. 

Create the right sleeping environment

It’s probably fairly obvious, but your bedroom is integral to how you sleep. It should be tranquil, uncluttered, and quiet. Light levels are important. In summer, in particular, too much light coming in can significantly shorten your sleep cycle. Temperature can make a big difference too – any hotter than around 18°C, and sleep can become difficult. Then, of course, there’s your bed. Having the wrong bedding or mattress can make sleep uncomfortable. 

Make lifestyle changes

A lot of what we do in the day can impact how we sleep. Making a few small changes – spending more time outdoors, exercising, eating earlier, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake – can dramatically improve how we sleep. 

No one is at their best when they haven’t had enough sleep. With a few, simple changes, you can take control of your sleep routine. Helping you to sleep better – and feel better, for a happier, more productive lifestyle.