Good Sleep Hygiene and Health

Good sleep hygiene entails regular practices that set us up for restorative sleep. Nurses Education Article

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Good Sleep Hygiene and Health

What is good sleep hygiene, and why should we care? Good sleep hygiene entails regular practices that set us up for restorative sleep. Restorative sleep is a crucial element of good health. We need to examine the behaviors and habits that influence good sleep hygiene, so we can change what we can control to improve our health.

Impact of Good Sleep Hygiene Habits on Health

Good sleep hygiene habits are practices that prepare us for a restorative night's sleep. Research indicates people who get good sleep perform better on cognitive tests, have better cardiovascular health, and live longer. According to the CDC, "Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.”

Sleep Needs Vary by Age

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, adults need 7 or more hours of sleep regularly to maintain good health. Teenagers need 7-10 hours, children 6-12 years old need 9-12 hours, 3-5 years old need 10-13, 1-3 years old need 11-14, and infants 4-12 months need 12-16 hours regularly to maintain good health.  Obstructive sleep apnea is more apt to interfere with sleep quality in men, whereas life events, illness, bad sleep habits, medication use, and physical or hormonal changes interfere with sleep quality in women.

Steps to Improving Sleep Hygiene

First off, investing in a comfortable pillow and mattress is money well spent when it comes to setting yourself up for successful restorative sleep. Another essential element of good sleep hygiene is employing a regular sleep-wake cycle, which is important in synchronizing circadian rhythms. Set a realistic bedtime to allow for seven-eight hours of sleep and stick to it. Even on non-working days, try to stay within one hour of your normal sleep schedule to help your body stay on track.

Setting the Stage for Restorative Sleep

Your bedroom should be dark, cool, and quiet. If you live in the city, or in any noisy environment, try using a white noise machine or a fan to block the noise. Do not use a television, computer, or cell phone 30-60 minutes before bedtime because the blue light interferes with your brain's ability to release melatonin. Do not drink a lot of liquids, alcohol, or caffeinated beverages, or eat a large meal several hours before bedtime to avoid interruptions in sleep.

Strategies for Relaxation

Try taking a hot shower or bath right before bed to relax. This will cause your temperature to drop when you enter your cool bedroom, which will enhance sleepiness naturally. Adopt a mindfulness routine, like meditation which includes deep breathing, all of which decreases heart rate and blood pressure and boosts restorative sleep quality. Try drinking an herbal tea before bed, like Chamomile, which can promote relaxation. Get regular exercise. People who exercise regularly tend to sleep better because exercise helps relieve stress and improves sleep quality. Just do not do it three hours before bedtime, or it may have the opposite effect. Deal with worries by processing them earlier in the day. Make a list of issues you need to deal with, including plans for workable solutions, which can relieve your mind from obsessing over them at bedtime.

People who adopt good sleep hygiene habits and still suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness or snore chronically should seek help from their healthcare provider. People who work shiftwork should work with their employers to adjust schedules to allow for appropriate sleep hygiene habits. To be healthy and engaged in work and in life requires adequate restorative sleep. This is not a luxury that can be ignored or denied if we want to live a long and healthy life.  


References/Resources

6 rules of great sleep hygiene, according to an expert: T3, Future US, Inc.

How to Get a Good Night Sleep When Stressed: The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

3 expert tips for improving your sleep hygiene: Yahoo! news

Quality sleep could add years to your life, study finds: CBS Interactive Inc.

1 in 3 adults don't get enough sleep: CDC

Sleep Education-Healthy Sleep: American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)

Sleep Hygiene: Sleep Foundation

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Telehealth Nurse Manager, Health Content Writer, 40 years of practice including telephone triage, ER, ICCU, Telemetry, Med/Surg, and Home Care.

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Specializes in Neurosurgery, Pediatric Transplant, OB.

Fantastic article. Thanks so much for sharing this valuable information about sleep hygiene.