13 Tips for good sleep hygiene and bad habits to avoid

13 Tips for good sleep hygiene and bad habits to avoid

Use our 13 tips for better sleep hygiene to improve your nightly routine and wake up feeling refreshed and energised.

Also find the 5 poor sleep hygiene habits to avoid which could be affecting your slumber.

We all know the importance of getting enough sleep every night, but it’s not just about quantity.

If we want to be at our best, both mentally and physically, then quality counts just as much.

We need to sleep soundly, as well as for the required number of hours, but how do we achieve that state, where we wake each morning refreshed, reinvigorated and ready for the day ahead.

Here, we look at the role sleep hygiene plays in ensuring a restful night.

  1. Sleep hygiene definition
  2. Why is it so important?
  3. 5 bad habits you should avoid
  4. 13 tips for good sleep hygiene


Sleep hygiene definition – what it means for you…

When defining sleep hygiene, it’s pretty simple…

Your nightly routine, and everything you do to prepare for sleep, counts towards your sleep hygiene. This of course makes everyone’s definition of the term different as we all have our own distinctive, individual way of preparing ourselves for sleep.

Sleep hygiene is a broad term and can include a multitude of varying rituals that one might perform pre-slumber.

From sipping a bedtime tea blend to using earbuds for a completely silent rest, there’s a never-ending list of ways you can improve your sleep hygiene.

It is a term that is inclusive for anyone and everyone and is something we should all work towards improving. Keep reading to find out why it’s so important for everyday life…


Why is sleep hygiene important?

Poor sleep hygiene equates to lack of sleep, poor quality rest, an unproductive lifestyle and potentially serious sleeping disorders.

The most common symptoms of sleep deprivation can include:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Poor memory
  • Increased indecisiveness
  • Difficulty with motor skills
  • Weakened immune system
  • Unexplained emotions

Don’t worry, these symptoms aren’t going to hit you all at once if your slumber takes a turn for the worse, but, equally, you may begin to work your way through the list if you neglect your sleep hygiene.

It is paramount you turn your attention to this aspect of your life as it is so important for healthy brain function and emotional wellbeing.

We all have those mornings when we wake up and think:

‘Wow, that was actually a great night’s sleep!’

What if I told you… that could be every morning?

Yes, it’s true! Just a give some tender loving care to your sleep hygiene and you will conquer the world, because that’s what it feels like when you wake up refreshed and ready for the day. (I can’t be the only one?)

Ok you get the idea, it’s important, so let’s begin. But, before I get to my magical tips for sleep utopia, you need to know what you should be avoiding…


5 Examples of poor sleep hygiene – what you should avoid…

Do you enjoy late-night snacks or indulge in an evening cup of tea?

Well, you might not like this list.

The truth hurts sometimes, but I only want the best for you. Here’s what you should be avoiding:


1. Your late-night snacks are betraying you

Can’t get to sleep? I’ve been there myself. Raiding the fridge seems such a good idea when you are struggling to clear your mind of all the day’s thoughts and instil a sense of peace and calm.

The more you try, the harder it gets. Pointless just lying there, you think to yourself. Have a peek in the fridge and see what takes your eye. Maybe your favourite cereal, drenched in cold milk. That should do it, and there’ll be no problem nodding off afterwards.

But wait, hold it right there. Put that bowl down, because the unpalatable truth is it’s going to do you more harm than good.

It may be commonly known as comfort food, but don’t you believe it. There’s nothing comfortable about trying to get to sleep after a late-night snack.

Eating kick-starts your stomach acids, and when it comes to lying down in bed, this can cause some nasty acid reflux.

Eating will also give you a boost in energy, which is the last thing you want when you are actually trying to wind down.


2. That nightcap isn’t helping – avoid alcoholic drinks

Although it may make you feel a little drowsy and ready for bed, that late-night tipple is actually having a detrimental effect.

It may help us drift off quicker, but the quality of sleep is compromised.

The National Sleep Foundation tells us that it can interrupt your internal body clock, stop REM sleep, introduce breathing problems and force extra bathroom trips during the night.


3. Why technology is a bad idea at night

There are two reasons why using technology such as a TV, mobile phone, laptop, gaming station or other electrical device will contribute to poor sleep hygiene.

  1. The blue light that your device gives off restricts the production of melatonin. This hormone controls your sleep cycle and maintains your internal body clock.
  2. Watching TV, surfing the internet or playing games involves far too much brain stimulation in the run-up to bedtime. You need to give your mind sufficient time to unwind before trying to fall asleep.


4. A warm bedroom is catastrophic not cosy

Catastrophic may be a little dramatic, but a warm bedroom is big deal when it comes to poor sleep hygiene.

Here’s the science behind it:

When we’re asleep, the internal temperature of our bodies naturally decreases. It’s at its lowest at around 5am.

Aiding your body get to that low temperature and stay there will help you achieve deeper sleep.

The ideal room temperature is around 18.5ºC.

This cooler environment can also help burn calories, make you look more youthful, help you fall asleep quicker and decrease the risk of certain metabolic diseases, Simple Most tells us.

Read our 12 tips for staying cool during Summer to find easy ways to keep heat at bay.


5. Bin those weekend lie-ins

I warned you that you wouldn’t like this list.

It may be difficult at first, adapting to life without the Saturday/Sunday sleep-in, but once you start waking up at the same time every day, the benefits will be well worth it.

A consistent routine gives your body’s internal clock the best chance of a perfect sleep cycle.

One important task that your circadian clock (A.K.A body clock) performs is releasing cortisol and adrenaline around an hour before you wake up.

This gradually prepares you for wakefulness and leaves you feeling refreshed and energised when it is time to wake up.

A consistent routine allows you to help your body get the most out of the cycle and improve sleep hygiene.


13 tips for good sleep hygiene – how to improve your habits…

You may feel a little aggrieved after discovering what you have to change for improved sleep hygiene, I know I was.

But, as the gym slogan goes, no pain no gain, and you can rest assured the benefits will far outweigh any drawbacks if you follow our advice.

So, on that note, here are 15 tips for improving your sleep hygiene and being at the top of your game (you can do it!).


1.      Exercise little and often

Exercise increases the time spent in deep sleep. It is also requires a lot of energy, which makes you more tired and ready for rest in the evening. Those who suffer from stress or anxiety will benefit from frequent exercise as it has a positive effect on your mood.


2.      Invest in comfortable bedding

We spend around a third of our lives in bed, so it’s worth investing in some super comfortable bedding.

For luxurious softness that you’ll look forward to sinking into, opt for a feather and down duvet and pillow.

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If you want to add even more comfort to your bed, a mattress topper is a thick layer of velvety goodness that supports your spine and creates the ultimate cosy space.

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The long lasting super soft spiral bounce back polyester hollowfibre filling provides a comforting softness whilst the 5cm mesh fabric allows for cool, breathable ventilation.

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3.      Turn your bedroom into a tranquil space

Fill your room with relaxing accessories that make you feel calm the second you walk in. Shades of blue, light dimmers, indoor plants and a clutter-free space all contribute to a peaceful environment.

For more advice on creating a stress-free environment, read our 10 tips for creating a relaxing bedroom.


4.      Get plenty of sunlight during the day

If your day is spent in a dark office that doesn’t let in much sunlight, you may want to reconsider your arrangements.


Making sure you get plenty of sunshine during the day will help train your brain towards a healthy sleep cycle and reinforce the message that sunlight equates to waking hours during the day and darkness overnight means sleep.


5.      Create complete darkness at night

Even the slightest bit of natural or artificial light during the night can hamper the production of melatonin.

Because this hormone is responsible for your sleep cycle, interrupting its production can have the same disruptive effect on your sleep, lower the quality of it and reduce the time you are asleep.

Most curtains won’t create complete darkness in your room and may let in some natural light. Blackout curtains are an inexpensive way to create a completely dark and relaxing environment.

{insert blackout curtain product}


6.      Make a personalised pre-bedtime routine

We’ve talked about a consistent sleeping routine, but it’s also important to establish a pre-bedtime procedure that is just as organised.

Make sure it’s consistent and the perfect preparation for sleep. It can be as simple as brushing your teeth and washing your face each night, as it is just there to act as a reminder for your brain:

‘I’m preparing for sleep’.

Other steps you could include, prior to turning in, are reading a book, drinking a caffeine-free hot drink, practising yoga positions, lighting some candles or preparing your things for the next day.


7.      Keep naps short and early

Ah, naps. Aren’t they great?

To keep your sleep hygiene in check, make sure you keep naps short (no more than 90 minutes) and restrict them to early on in the day.

There’s no set time for when you shouldn’t take a nap, but taking one a couple of hours before you plan on going to bed may lower the quality of your sleep.

If you need help on the kind of naps you should be taking and how to make the most of them, take a look at our tips for achieving the perfect nap.


8.      Take notice of how much sleep you’re getting and adjust accordingly

Do you know how much sleep you’re getting every night?

Not only is it interesting seeing how many hours you’re clocking up and assessing if your sleep hygiene improvements are working, it is also vital to know if you’re getting the recommended amount.

The average adult needs between 7 – 9 hours, with some even needing as much as 11 hours.

Start recording sleep duration each night and how you feel the following day. If you feel groggy and tired after just seven hours of sleep, then adjust your routine to get an extra hour or two to see if it makes an improvement.

There are plenty of apps you can download on your phone which automatically record how long you have slept for.


9.      Your bedroom is for relaxing and not for work

Our brain likes to play a fun game of association.

Have you ever had a bad experience with something or somewhere and automatically relived the memory whenever that thing or place has been mentioned?

Give thanks to your reliable brain.

If you use your bedroom as a workspace, you can be sure your brain will associate the room with work rather than sleep. Needless to say, this will have a detrimental effect on sleep hygiene and make it all the harder to unwind fully in the evening.

So whatever you do, keep your bedroom for relaxing and find another space for work.


10.  Block out noise and keep your room quiet

The first thing to do is make sure there are no electrical devices that are making sounds in your bedroom; even a ticking clock can have a negative impact.

Once you’ve got your room in order, it’s time to deal with pesky outside noise.

Whether it’s coming from inside or outside your house, it’s irritating and will disrupt your sleep. Even if it doesn’t necessarily keep you awake, it can alter your cycle and prevent you from obtaining the required deep sleep.

There are a couple of options to try. Earbuds are an easy way to create a silent atmosphere. Or, for those who find complete silence uncomforting, try a white noise machine.


11.  Banish your phone and alarm clock to a far, far away land

The opposite side of your bedroom is what I mean.

Firstly, your phone.

It is far too tempting to have a browse of Instagram, Facebook or whatever other app you have on your phone when you’re struggling to sleep.

The screen light from notifications through the night is also a no-no to have right next to your bed.

Secondly, your alarm clock.

Especially if you are struggling to sleep, you will most likely continuously check the time, which only creates more stress and make it even harder to drift off.

Put that clock out of sight, or at least out of reach. Placing it on the other side of the room should do the trick and will also force you to get out of bed in the morning, rather than hitting the snooze button, which is an added bonus. (trust me!)


12.  You need to keep your bed clean and hygienic

Did you know that bed bugs, their droppings and dead skin, could be making up a third of the weight of your pillow?

Keeping your bed clean is not only important for your health, it also creates a fresher, more positive environment for rest.

After all, is there a better feeling than jumping into a bed of freshly washed sheets?


13.  Manage your anxious thoughts and feelings

If you find yourself lying awake at night with thoughts rushing through your mind, you’re certainly not alone.

It is a big problem for so many of us, and it can be incredibly frustrating when it’s damaging your sleep hygiene.

A useful tip that works for a lot of people is always having a pen and notepad next to your bed.

Whenever an anxiety or concern pops into your head, or if there’s anything that simply won’t leave your mind, write it down on the notepad. There, it’s gone from your thoughts and made its way on to a scrap of paper, leaving you with a sense of release. Bon Nuit!

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