The Hugo Blog

The Newbie's Guide to "Sleep Hygiene"

We all know that maintaining hygiene in our day to day lives is important. Brushing our teeth, washing our hands, bathing on a regular basis and keeping our environment clean are non-negotiable.

But what’s the deal with sleep hygiene, a hot-topic issue you may have already heard of? Despite how it sounds, sleep hygiene is not about keeping your sheets spotless nor your pillowcases fresh. It actually has little to do with hygiene as we know the term and more to do with our general night-time rituals and how they affect our sleep patterns.

Sleep hygiene refers to the habits surrounding our bedtime routine. When we optimise our sleep hygiene, we are likely to achieve better rest and relaxation, which ultimately benefits mental and physical wellbeing.

There are various ways to improve sleep hygiene, many of which can easily be incorporated into your normal routine. Here are a few of our top tips:

- Limit blue light exposure – Especially before bed. Blue light is the high-energy light emitted from screens. Not only can it be harmful for your eye health, but can also significantly inhibit your sleep. Blue-light blockers are a helpful way to limit its effects if you must use screens before bed, while reducing overall screen time is optimal.

- Cut your caffeine and nicotine intake. Both of these substances are stimulants that can disrupt your sleep routine when taken in excess. Try to avoid them at least 5 hours before you go to sleep. Also take note that alcohol, while a depressant, can also lead to poor sleep if consumed in excess.

- If you’re a napper, make sure you’re napping right. There’s something to be said for a power nap, hovering around 30 minutes. This is the ideal length to recharge without ruining your sleep. Any longer and you may end up too groggy and/or unable to sleep when bedtime comes.

- Try to calm your mind before bed. If you go to sleep stressed, you’ll definitely feel it when you wake up in the morning. Even 5 minutes of meditation before you sleep can help you relax and rid your head of pesky thoughts and anxieties that can distract you once your head hits the pillow.

- Choose an appropriate room temperature. Too hot and you’ll wake up in a pool of sweat, too cold and you’ll have trouble winding down to sleep. The best bedroom temperature is moderately cool, as the body needs to cool down in order to initiate sleep. Just not too much, as this can have the opposite effect.

- Update your mattress. Have you been sleeping on the same old mattress for the past twenty years? If so, it’s time for a swap. Over time, mattresses sink and break down. Once they form to your body, their support may diminish and therefore your sleep may suffer. Aim to replace your mattress every decade maximum and turn every few months.

If you have tried all of these methods and your sleep is still poor, you may need to seek professional guidance. But hopefully integrating these practices into your life can help you get the rest you need.

What other sleep hygiene methods have you found helpful? Contact us to let us know!

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