Electric blanket

What is sleep hygiene?

19 Mar, 2023
Jürgen Swinnen

Sleep hygiene is a catch-all term that refers to the practices and environmental factors that contribute to healthy sleep and help improve your sleep quality.

When we consider the human body, we talk about body hygiene and when we think of body care, we think, for example, of the regularity with which you wash yourself, brush your teeth and (un)pleasant body odors.

With sleep, it is no different. Alone, poor sleep hygiene often leads to poor sleep, sleep debt and health issues. By improving your sleep hygiene, you can enjoy a better night’s sleep.

Do you sleep poorly at night? Do you wake up often, or sleep too little? If so, it is possible that your sleep hygiene needs improvement. So you can improve your sleep hygiene and sleep better with a few simple adjustments.

The impact of sleep rhythm and ritual

Sleep is activated, day in and day out, by your body and every day, according to a fairly fixed rhythm, at almost fixed times. Only during our babyhood, as adolescents and from middle age onward, our circadian rhythm makes strange leaps. The better you respect this rhythm and live by it, the easier it will be for your body to catch sleep.

This comes under the heading: sleep routine or sleep rhythm. A relatively fixed time frame, from waking up and looking up at your bed, makes all processes become aligned. Sleep specialists recommend not making too many exceptions to this even over the weekend so as not to disrupt your biological clock too much. And if you do deviate, know that it’s best to catch up on sleep immediately.

Sleep rituals are also part of sleep hygiene. Your favorite series on TV, reading a book, the evening walk with the dog or listening to your favorite music can all be part of your ritual. Rituals offer rest and the just that, which ensures healthy sleep.

A steady rhythm in the evening can have another benefit, which is to lower your stress levels. And just let stress be a huge sleep disruptor.

The influence of nutrition on your sleep

What you eat and drink in the hours before bed also plays an important role. Although not everyone has the same reaction after a late-night nightcap or a strong cup of coffee in the evening, sleep scientists agree that alcohol and caffeine disrupt sleep.

A warm cup of tea may feel like sleep-inducing, but tea also contains caffeine. Having trouble falling asleep? If you drink a cup of tea every night, it may have a negative impact on your sleep.

The impact of these substances during different sleep stages is enormous. Although alcohol can also be sleep-inducing, it is generally a factor that causes poor sleep.

You can read more in our blog about how nutrition affects your sleep. For example, did you know that a gluten allergy can lead to poor sleep?

The bedroom

Of course, the bedroom plays a big role in your sleep hygiene. There are some things you can change about your bedroom to make sure you sleep better. Your bedroom should best meet the following requirements:

  • It is a quiet, peaceful place.
  • You can darken the room well.
  • The temperature is around 17 degrees.
  • The bedroom is clean and well ventilated during the day.

Note that a bedroom that is too cold can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold because of moisture. Although some people think they sleep better with a cool temperature, it can pose health risks.

Active people sleep better?

An active life with regular physical activity outdoors and sunlight makes your body tired. Sports, walking and exercise are healthy, including for your sleep. Try not to exercise too intensely right before bedtime because your energy level increases greatly and that hinders you from easily catching sleep.

What is most important for good sleep?

Good sleep hygiene leads to good sleep. If you find that you are having trouble sleeping, or sleeping poorly in general, the first step is to look at your sleep hygiene. This will include your sleep rhythm and evening ritual first.

How you behave before you go to sleep, and what you eat or drink, can have a big impact on your sleep. If you want to sleep better, you will need to improve your sleep hygiene. The length of your daily sleep pattern makes a big difference in long-term health.

Conclusion

Good sleep hygiene is the key to healthy sleep. Regularity, habits and a quiet sleep environment seem boring, but sensitively improve the quality of your sleep.

What is sleep hygiene – Frequently Asked Questions:

Sleep hygiene is a catch-all term for a variety of elements that contribute to good sleep. The furnishings and temperature of your bedroom also come into play. Good sleep hygiene leads to better sleep.

Poor sleep hygiene can be recognized by, among other things, an irregular sleep rhythm, no set sleep routine, being active just before bedtime or drinking caffeine or alcohol before bedtime.

Too little sleep is obviously not healthy, but too much sleep is not good either. It can lead to health problems. The sleep you need averages 7 to 8 hours per night, but it varies from person to person.