Believe it or not, sleep hygiene is the word on every sleep specialist’s lips. Here at Simba, we’re huge fans of getting our full eight hours, and sleep hygiene is one of the things that helps us drop off and wake up refreshed, energised, and ready to tackle the day. But what is sleep hygiene, and why should anyone care?
Buckle up (or settle down) - it’s time for our ultimate guide to a great night’s sleep.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is everything you should and shouldn’t do to make sure you get the quality slumber you need, and it starts before bedtime. From forming good habits to making sure you have the best environment to sleep in, proper sleep hygiene will help you have a great night.
Better sleep has a huge impact on our lives (more energy, happier relationships, and glowing skin for starters), but all too often it slips to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. By making a few simple changes, you can tap into nights that leave you feeling and looking great.
Preparing for sleep
Getting a great night’s sleep starts with the bedroom. It might sound strange, but your bedroom should be far more than just a room with a bed - it’s an oasis of calm where you feel happy, relaxed, and - hopefully - ready to settle down for the night.
Many people overestimate how warm a bedroom should be. While we love to be toasty at night it’s far easier to sleep in a cool room, under a high quality duvet, than it is to have the radiator cranked up. Keep the room temperature to around 18 degrees, and make sure you have a comfortable duvet that doesn’t make you too hot or cold. We developed our duvets to do just that, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
Before bed, remember to run through this handy checklist to make sure you have everything for a good night’s sleep:
- Cover blinking chargers so you’re not disturbed by the light.
- Make sure your curtains are properly drawn so you’re not woken by passing lights or the early sun (and consider investing in blackout curtains if you’re easily woken).
- Set up your bedside table with everything you might need during the evening and night - that’s earplugs, a book, and a glass of water.
- Give your bedroom a quick tidy. The neater your environment, the less stressful it is, and the more relaxed you’ll feel.
- Find somewhere to put your phone, such as a drawer. It doesn’t have to be far away, but make sure it’s out of sight. And if your phone also acts as your alarm clock, consider buying a cheap analogue version so you’re not tempted to browse the internet in bed.
Getting into a sleep routine
Now your bedroom is in tip-top shape, establish your sleep routine. By having a consistent bedtime you’ll balance your circadian rhythm, and your body will switch off more easily - making it a doddle to fit in your eight hours. The same goes for the morning. Alarm clocks are nobody’s best friend, but committing to a regular wake-up will leave you feeling fresher. And we hate to break it to you, but sticking to the roughly the same schedule on weekends will reap huge benefits, too.
If you’re a die-hard morning hater, try setting your alarm 20 minutes early (keep reading, it gets better!) so you have time to enjoy some home comforts before beginning your day. Put on some music, make a coffee or just sit quietly in your favourite fluffy dressing gown - basically, whatever makes you feel good.
Switching off for sleep
If you still have trouble switching off before bed, try some of these relaxing activities:
- Practise some light yoga (nothing too vigorous - more on that below). Yoga is relaxing and can help take your mind away from daytime anxieties.
- Take a warm bath or shower to relax your muscles (and your mind).
- Set out your things for the next day, such as your clothes and a packed lunch for work. The less you have to do in the morning, the less you have to worry about as you’re trying to drop off.
Things that might help you sleep
Improving your sleep hygiene doesn’t have to cost money, but if you’re ready to make a few changes you could do worse than investing in a good quality mattress that’s comfortable, supportive, and generally makes getting into bed feel great (ahem, Simba® Hybrid).
What to avoid
As well as good sleep practises, there are plenty of bad sleep hygiene habits to watch out for. If you can kick them, you’re all but guaranteed a better night’s sleep.
- Don’t exercise shortly before bed, as the increased adrenaline and heart rate can keep you up. Stick to exercising earlier and giving yourself time to recover (we recommend leaving at least a couple of hours before bed).
- Caffeine doesn’t affect everyone the same way, but in general it’s best to avoid the stuff after 2pm.
- Don’t eat heavy meals any less than three hours before bedtime.
- Alcohol can help you get to sleep - but it will also affect the quality of your slumber and wake you up in the night. If you are drinking, avoid fizz, eat, and remember to stay hydrated.
- Resist the urge to nap during the day. No matter how tired you are, napping has a tendency to disrupt your sleep schedule and can make it harder to drop off at night.
- Kick screens out of the room. Unfortunately the blue light they emit is sleep’s public enemy number one. There’s no need to go cold turkey, but banishing Netflix and Instagram to the living room will help your brain realise it’s time to nod off when you hit the bedroom. (If TV is the only thing that helps you nod off, plump for lighthearted sitcoms over Luther.) Another option is using a blue light filter, which can help banish the pesky light rays that keep you awake after hours.