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What Is Sleep Hygiene?

Roughly 32% of adults don't get enough sleep every night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sleep problems can range from difficulty falling asleep, not staying asleep all night, or waking up too early and being unable to fall back to sleep. While causes of sleep problems vary, sleep hygiene can benefit nearly anyone suffering. Read on to discover sleep hygiene tips that may help you get a better night's rest.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

The CDC advises that adults between 18 and 60 generally need at least 7 hours of sleep every night. For adults aged 61 to 64, the CDC recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep; for older adults, the recommended nightly amount of sleep is 7 to 8 hours. Your medical provider can help you determine how much sleep you need to support your physical and mental health.

Signs of Poor Sleep Quality

Recognizing the signs of poor sleep quality can help determine if you could benefit from proper sleep hygiene. Some signs of poor sleep quality include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue that persists for weeks
  • Increased appetite
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up frequently at night to use the bathroom
  • Gasping or choking in your sleep

What Is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is the term for habits and actions that promote good quality sleep. Someone with poor sleep hygiene is more likely to suffer from sleep problems. On the other hand, those who practice good sleep hygiene may fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night more regularly.

Do's and Don'ts of Sleep Hygiene

To start practicing good sleep hygiene, follow these dos and don'ts:

Do Stick to a Set Sleep Schedule.

Circadian rhythms control your sleep-wake cycle. When you vary your bedtimes and waking times, it can be difficult for your body's natural rhythms to adapt. Going to bed and getting up simultaneously every day, regardless of your activities, can help keep your circadian rhythms well-regulated.

Don't Use Alcohol to Induce Sleep.

Alcohol is a depressant, so it can make you feel drowsy. However, relying on alcohol to help you fall asleep every night can do more harm than good. This is because alcohol contains sugars that your body breaks down after you drink. In the process, this produces energy, which can cause you to wake up frequently during the night. Plus, alcohol intake can raise your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, some forms of cancer, immune system problems, and alcohol use disorder.

Do Establish a Relaxing Nightly Routine.

Create a 30-minute routine to help you transition from your day to bedtime. Choose activities that allow you to calm your mind and relax your body. Turn down the lights or soak in the tub. Read a book or close your eyes and listen to music. Try to do the same tasks at the same time every night to condition your body to anticipate sleep.

Don't Use Blue Light Devices in Bed.

Blue light from computers, televisions, and mobile devices can activate the central nervous system and energize your body, making it harder to fall asleep. Stop using blue light devices 30 minutes to an hour before you head to bed, and avoid looking at your phone if you wake up in the middle of the night. Instead, invest in an alarm clock that will allow you to check the time.

Don't Consume Caffeine Late in the Day.

Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it activates the central nervous system and awakens your body. Depending on how sensitive you are to caffeine, you may need to limit intake to the morning hours or stop drinking soda, coffee, and tea at dinner time to support restful sleep.

Do Investigate Natural Sleep Aids.

The right natural sleep aids may help you to fall asleep more quickly and enjoy better sleep throughout the night. Magnesium supplements are one option. An essential mineral, magnesium is necessary for muscle reaction. Taking a supplement may help ease tension, allowing you to relax and drift asleep. Magnesium may also enhance sleep quality by acting on the parasympathetic nervous system.

How to Get High-Quality Sleep

Establishing good sleep hygiene habits can go a long way toward helping you to improve sleep quality and get enough rest. Your healthcare provider can help you evaluate your sleep hygiene habits and advise on how interventions like taking magnesium for sleep may improve your sleep and overall health and well-being.