American Academy of Sleep Medicine | Nov 07, 2012
What exactly is sleep hygiene?
Dr. Schwimmer: Sleep Hygiene refers to habits and behaviors that can help improve sleep. Our daily routines – what we eat and drink, how and when we exercise, the drugs and medicines we consume, how we schedule our days – can significantly affect the amount and the quality of the sleep we get. Because sleep is so fundamental to health and well-being, good sleep hygiene can make a big difference in people’s lives.
Why is good sleep hygiene so important?
Dr. Schwimmer: Good sleep hygiene is important because good sleep is fundamental to health and well-being. Sleep is a basic human need. Without good sleep, our bodies and minds can’t function optimally. Sleep deprivation has been shown to contribute to a wide variety of diseases, including mood disorders and depression, weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, cardiac disease and even cancer.
How can people determine which sleep hygiene practices are best for them?
Dr. Schwimmer: Honestly looking at your sleep behaviors, your lifestyle choices and acknowledging the importance of good sleep to health and happiness is the key. Make a list of your habits that help you get good sleep and the ones that may be keeping you from getting the rest you need. Then start thinking about how much better off you could be if you got better sleep and see what changes you can make.
What are some signs/symptoms of bad sleep hygiene?
Dr. Schwimmer: Anything that keeps you from regularly getting a good night’s rest could be a sign of bad sleep hygiene. Perhaps it’s drinking coffee after dinner and then tossing and turning all night or staying up late doing computer work and being unable to “wind down” and fall asleep. It could also be something like not keeping a regular sleep schedule, as you would for your child.
What are some factors that affect sleep hygiene?
Dr. Schwimmer: The single biggest factor may be people’s lack of awareness of the profound impact that better sleep can have on our lives. When people become aware of all the positive changes that can result from better sleep, and how relatively minor changes in our routines can help us get better sleep, they become empowered to change their lives.