Lately when I hear the word hygiene I picture myself singing "Happy Birthday" twice while I wash my hands. However, hygiene is more than just showering, brushing our teeth, and cutting our fingernails. An often overlooked and vital piece of hygiene is sleep hygiene. Yes, you read that right. Sleep hygiene is the routine of winding down before bedtime to set ourselves up for a restful night's sleep. Here are six components to help develop a successful sleep routine:
Develop a sleep schedule: going to bed and waking up around the same time each day helps your body know when to start winding down. Keeping to a schedule, even on the weekends and during quarantine, helps keep you alert and well-rested the next day.
Compartmentalize: do not use your bed during the day. Avoid watching tv, doing work, or playing on your phone in bed. Keep your bed as your restful place for sleep and nothing else.
Avoid caffeine and other awakening things before bed: it is best to avoid caffeine, large meals, and intense exercise right before bed. Those things will wake your body up during the time you are needing to wind down.
Limit screen time: it is easy to find yourself in a rabbit hole of brownie recipes on Pinterest at 3 in the morning (I am definitely talking from personal experience). If you are someone who is easily distracted by things on your phone, it is probably best to limit or stop your screen time 30 minutes to an hour before bed to help wind down.
Keep a cozy bedroom: as you are winding down for sleep, having a room with warm dim lights, a comfortable temperature, and inviting bed helps settle you down for the night. Doing so lets your body and mind know it’s time for sleep.
Assess your headspace: if you have been laying in bed for an hour and have not been able to turn your brain off, it might be a sign to try something different. You can go into another room, read a book, drink some warm tea, or do some gentle yoga. Then go back to bed when you are feeling reset and sleepy.