Sleep hygiene refers to healthy behaviours, habits, and factors in our environment that can be adjusted and help us obtain a good night’s sleep. What we end up doing in our day-to-day lives can greatly affect our quality of sleep. Some of the behaviours and habits may seem unrelated and may, therefore, become reinforced over the years, resulting in sleep difficulties. However, sleep hygiene ensures that we practise things in our daily lives that can improve the overall quality of our sleep. Improving sleep hygiene has very little cost and absolutely no risk, making it an excellent way to enhance one’s overall well-being. Dr. Shevantika Nanda, Counselling Psychologist, COO and Co-Founder of Mimblu, explains all about sleep hygiene and its importance in this article.
Importance of sleep hygiene
Getting good quality sleep is important for both physical and mental health and helps improve productivity and overall quality of life. Inadequate sleep has been associated with poor appetite regulation, weight gain, poor heart health, and reduced immunity. Meanwhile, lack of proper sleep can impact emotion regulation and make one more stressed and irritable. One study found that sleep deprivation leads to cognitive impairments similar to those found in alcoholism. Besides this, insufficient sleep is also associated with depression, and anxiety, and often people suffering from these mental health conditions report sleep issues or insomnia. Moreover, feeling tired can also impact motivation negatively.
Mental health issues caused due to poor sleep
Sleep and mental health issues appear to have a bidirectional relationship: poor sleep can exacerbate or even lead to emotional health challenges, and poor emotional health can contribute to or cause sleep issues. Thus, there is a lot to be gained from improving our sleep hygiene and getting good quality sleep. Here are a few simple things that can help you improve your sleep hygiene.
- There is no right or wrong way to achieve improved sleep hygiene, and you would probably need to try a few things out before you find the right steps for you.
- Sleep and wake up at the same time every day - This routine helps set and maintain your body clock. With time, waking up and falling asleep both become easier.
- Have a morning and pre-bedtime routine - This can be a few simple steps you follow every day in the same order. It signals a change to your brain and prepares you for the activity to follow - so the brain lets your body know it’s time to sleep when you do your night routine and tells your body it’s time to wake up when you do your morning routine.
- The bed should be reserved for sleeping - If you use your bed as a place to work, watch TV or eat, your brain starts associating it with these activities. Over time, you start associating your bed with feeling awake and alert rather than relaxed and sleepy.
- Pay attention to the timings of activities - The time you exercise, nap, eat, or consume caffeine can have a significant impact on when you end up feeling sleepy. It is always helpful to try out different timings to help you find the best fit for you.
As we sleep, especially during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the brain engages in certain restorative processes that improve emotional health and allow us to process information better. Therefore, having a good night’s sleep also improves memory, productivity and cognitive functioning and plays a crucial role in improving mental well-being, alongside physical wellness.
Image credits- freepik