The Importance of Sleep Hygiene
Why is sleep important?
Diets and exercise have been at the centre of the fitness and wellbeing paradigm for the last few decades. Sleep has always been acknowledged as having beneficial effects, but ever-increasing busy lifestyles have been getting in the way. In recent times the term “sleep hygiene” has been passed around but what does it mean and how can it help the quality of our sleep. Below is a list of some of the many benefits of a good night’s sleep.
- Busy lifestyles have been linked to an increase in stress, a full night’s sleep 7-9hrs has been proven to reduce hormones such as cortisol, a stress hormone. A reduction in cortisol will help you handle a jam-packed schedule. (HuffPost, 2018)
- Every day we are presented with new information both in our professional and personal lives, sleep provides time to process this information. Studies have shown that increased sleep (8hrs plus) positively impacts memory. (Nhlbi.nih.gov, 2018), (HuffPost, 2018)
Impact on weight gain
- Studies have linked overweight and obesity with reduced sleep. The exact reasons for this are complicated and multifaceted but it is theorised that a poor night’s sleep negatively impacts willpower, therefore affecting food and exercise choices. (Nhlbi.nih.gov, 2018)
Feeling energized and alert
- Sleep has been proven to increase energy levels and performance due to alertness. This will positively affect your job and athletic performance. (HuffPost, 2018)
- Reduced sleep has been linked to an increase in inflammation, inflammation can cause and increase in the risk of heart disease (Faraut et al., 2012). Getting a good night’s sleep is one way to reduce this.
Better coping ability
- The link between pain and sleep has been the topic of many studies in the last decade. For those suffering from long term pain, increased quantity and better-quality sleep has been linked a reduction in the level of perceived pain and an improved ability to cope with pain levels. (Finan, Goodin and Smith, 2013)
Recovery of cells
- While sleeping the body and cells are given a chance to recover, quality and quantity of sleep both affect the recovery of cells. Studies have linked extended periods of poor sleep to cell damage and reduced recovery (Everson et al., 2014).
What is sleep hygiene and how can I implement it into my life?
Sleep hygiene involves developing a set bedtime routine to help improve the time it takes to fall asleep and the quality of sleep.
Here are some ways to improve sleep hygiene
- Regular exercise has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, it is advised however to avoid exercising right before bedtime as the body needs time relax and cool down after.
- Avoid caffeine within 6hrs of bed time, this is the average time for the effects of caffeine to wear off.
- Avoid excessive alcohol as this can help induce sleep but affect the quality of the sleep.
- Develop a bedtime routine. This could involve a warm shower, some light stretches and reading a book. Having a routine, signals to your body it is time for bed.
- Use the hour before bed to wind down and relax, avoid tasks that involve problem solving right before bedtime as they increase brain activity.
- Make sure your sleeping environment is cool, well ventilated and dark. It is a good idea to only use the bedroom for sleep and intimacy.
- Limit the use of screens within an hour of bed time. The light emitted from laptop or phone screens has been shown to stimulate brain activity.
- Have dinner early and allow time for digestion. It is suggested that the last meal of the day should be consumed at least 2 hours before bed.
- Get outdoors during the day to get some natural light, this could be a good excuse to go for a walk at lunch and get exercise at the same time!
If you are finding it difficult to get started with sleep hygiene, whether it be: exercise, an injury, old or new or something else, one of our many talented physiotherapists, personal trainers or other members of the allied health team will be able to help in areas such as exercise prescription, pain management, injury prevention, rehabilitation, diet guidance and much more . Either contact us online or ask someone from our great reception team and they will happily point you in the right direction.
(Healthysleep.med.harvard.edu, 2018), (Betterhealth.vic.gov.au, 2018), (Sleepfoundation.org, 2018)