What is Sleep Hygiene?
Throughout the 21 Day Sleep Challenge we’ve talked a lot about how to create effective evening and morning routines. But what about the health and the quality of your sleep? Let’s take a look at how your sleep hygiene impacts on the length and quality of your sleep.
Sleep hygiene might seem like a bit of an obscure concept. When we look at the hygiene of something, we’re looking at the cleanliness of it. When it comes to sleep, we’re talking specifically about how much slow wave sleep or REM sleep you’re able to consistently enjoy.
This is the deepest level of sleep. It’s when our bodies go into a state of complete rest and repair. We need extended periods of this state of sleep in order to be able to concentrate, think critically and creatively and be productive.
Without this level of deep sleep, we tend to be grouchy, are less able to concentrate, are more likely to have trouble diving into creative concepts and are more likely to look and feel dull and lifeless. Physically we can see the effects of a poor night’s sleep. When we take a look at poor sleep quality through the lens of low sleep hygiene, it can help us to reframe sleep and create a clinical approach.
We approach diet and exercise from a scientific perspective, why not sleep? When we know the significant, positive effects of sleep it’s a bit silly not to approach it in the same way we do other parts of our lives.
How to Assess your Sleep Hygiene
We’re not trying to give you homework, but one of the best ways to monitor your sleep hygiene levels is to keep a sleep journal. We’re not talking about a dream journal, though by all means go ahead!
A sleep journal is a bit like a sleep tracker. A pedometer of sorts for sleep. You could even try a sleep tracking app that registers your movements or noise in sleep. Taking note of when you’ve woken throughout the night and how much deep sleep you’re getting is the first step in assessing your personal sleep hygiene.
If you’re frequently waking up in the middle of the night, take a look at the timing and the cause. Is it the same time every night to go to the bathroom? Perhaps reducing the amount of liquids you consume will prevent this from recurring, resulting in a more consistent sleep. Often small lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on the length and depth of your sleep.
If you’re in bed early enough but find it difficult to drift off, taking a look at your diet and exercise routine might be the best place to start a self assessment.
Exercise boosts energy levels and endorphins and has a positive effect on your heart health and brain function. Enjoying a moderate level of exercise regularly will have positive and long lasting impacts on your health and wellness. Paying attention to when you’re exercising might be the key.
Undertaking a strenuous exercise routine right before going to bed might physically exhaust you, but you’re more likely to be mentally stimulated and will find it harder to fall asleep and fall into a deep sleep. Light exercise like stretching or yoga can have the opposite effect, helping to release the tension in your muscles and joints and relax you before bed. Try switching it up and record the effects in your sleep diary.
When we talk about diet we’re not necessarily talking about creating calorie restrictions. What and how much you eat and drink can have an impact on your sleep patterns. Eating a heavy meal before bed, for example, is likely to impact your sleep as your digestive tract will be hard at work breaking down the food and turning it into energy.
On the flip side, not eating enough and going to bed hungry will likely lead to an interrupted, fitful sleep cycle. Your body needs energy in order to be able to sleep and repair the body each night. It’s all a balancing act.
Taking a look at the amount of caffeine or alcohol that you ingest before bed is also an important factor to examine when evaluating your sleep patterns. Alcohol and caffeine act as stimulants, making it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Enjoying a glass of wine or a cup of tea or coffee late at night regularly will likely lead to interrupted sleep and reduce the depth of your REM sleep.
Putting your Assessment into Action
Once you’ve had a look at your sleep and what’s affecting your overall sleep hygiene. Creating a positive plan of action is the best way to start creating a healthier, cleaner way forward.
If you’re affected by physical stimulants, removing them or moving them up earlier in your evening routine is a simple switch that will likely have an immediate impact.
For example, if you’ve been exercising before bed, moving your workout to after work will likely leave you feeling just the right amount of sleepy when you dive into bed. Replacing your glass of wine after dinner with herbal tea or enjoying a drink with your meal will reduce the impact of alcohol and caffeine on your sleep.
If you’re finding that the external factors aren’t what are affecting your quality of sleep, taking a look at your evening routine might help you pinpoint an issue. Creating an effective evening routine doesn’t have to be a complicated task. Often physical issues affecting sleep hygiene are manifested because of mental or emotional stressors.
Taking the time to sift through your stressors with journaling, meditation, yoga, a bath or enjoying your skincare routine at the end of the day can help set the mood and create a mental wind down. Sloughing off the mental stress is a bit like using an exfoliant to strip away your problems.
Creating habits takes time, so be gentle on yourself when you’re putting your new routines into action.
Creating an Inviting Space
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it all starts in the bed!
Creating an inviting bedroom with a comfy space is the key to any sleep hygiene routine. Our body’s physical, mental and emotional response to our sleeping environment might be one of the key factors affecting your ability to consistently enjoy deep sleep.
Is your bed comfortable?
Do you have the right pillows for your head and your body?
Are your pillowcases naturally cooling and soothing to sleep on?
In order to have the right support for your head and body, taking a look at how you sleep is essential. Back and side sleepers might sleep more comfortably with additional support from a pillow like the Beauty Pillow. The patented design features sleep zones to support the head and neck in sleep, reducing facial contact and preventing the impact of sleep compression.
Using support pillows like the Knee Pillow can help to align your spine for active sleep support. The Knee Pillow helps to alleviate the pressure placed on your joints in sleep and can be especially helpful for side or stomach sleepers that place uneven pressure on specific joints and muscles.
Boosting your pillow or the Beauty Pillow with a Silk Pillowcase will help to naturally cool and soothe the skin for sleepers who tend to sleep hot. Silk’s naturally cooling and antibacterial properties help to cool the skin, while the fibers prevent the absorption of sweat and moisture.
Traditional pillowcases can pull at the skin as you move and change position in your sleep. Silk pillowcases, with their naturally soft and delicate fibers allow the skin to glide across, reducing irritation and breakouts and boosting the anti-aging properties of the Beauty Pillow.
What positive effects have you felt throughout the 21 Day Sleep Challenge? What are you looking forward to improving in your sleep routine? Let us know! Tag us on Instagram @beautypillow.official and TikTok @beautypillow.official to share your sleep hygiene habits and tips!