Not just the shower before bed

A cup of herbal tea next to some candles and lavender flowersIt is that time of year, when the children have returned to school and we are getting closer to saving time. I know my family, it was an adaptation to get everyone in a better sleep schedule after the late nights of summer fun.

At the same time, I noticed in my practice that some of the people I'm working on had difficulty getting to bed in late times, struggling to maintain an ideal sleep timetable, and the lack of sense of reliance on waking up in the mornings. Given this common trend around sleeping issues, I thought before we started the dark nights of winter, now would be a good time for all of us to think of our personal sleep hygiene.

What is sleep hygiene?

I consider the phrase "sleep hygiene" a bit odd. For me, it creates images of bubble baths, toothpaste and soap in the bedroom. While brushing your teeth before bed is a good habit and one that can help mark the end of your day, sleep hygiene is not just cleanliness. It's about all the habits and the agendas you keep around your sleeping routine and the night of sleep.

The definition of hygiene according to is "conditions or practices that help to maintain health and prevent diseases, especially through cleanliness." Since cleanliness is just one aspect, it makes sense to think about all other conditions and practices that surround sleep. Sleep may seem like a trivial thing. We do it all. is a natural process that should be easy. But easy is not always the case.

The challenge of maintaining good hygiene of sleep

Good sleep can be a challenge for many, but sleep is really a vital element in life. It is quite common knowledge that research confirms that getting enough restful sleep is an important part of maintaining hygiene and operating at your best. Unfortunately, some adults have difficulty sleeping well and many have fallen into plans that are counterproductive to achieving the best possible rest. If this hit is true for you, stop thinking about your bedtime routine and the conditions you have for sleeping.

Many parents of young children are familiar with the importance of a bedtime routine – they have probably created one to help their babies and young children learn to go easy to bed each night. Whether it's bathing, story, milk and a song, or some other kind of ritual, we know that a good routine helps kids go to bed and we know how important it is to sleep. Sleep helps children grow up, grow, work well, be careful at school, and avoid elasticity.

While adults may not need as many sleeping hours as children, rest is still important. However, as we grow older, we have more free will and we are flooded with modern technologies and everyday stressors, we often neglect good sleep habits and may therefore end up with things like chronic insomnia, poor health, irritability, lack of concentration, crisis from neglect to give our body the sleep they need.

Tips for better sleep hygiene

Below is a list of the most common recommendations related to the development and maintenance of good sleep hygiene:

  • Create regular and continuous moments to go to bed and wake up. This helps adjust your internal clock.
  • Determine how many hours your body needs. Each person requires a certain amount of sleep to feel rested and achieve optimal performance while awake. Understand the test and the error that seems to be your optimal amount of sleep, then try to get that amount of sleep every night, adjusting your sleep time accordingly and waking up.
  • Develop rituals before bedtime. The usual things like locking the house, sipping a cup of tea, drinking your pajamas, washing your face and brushing your teeth can become rituals when they are performed regularly and steadily before bed. Your brain connects these things to clearing and sleeping. Regular routine can make you feel tired and ready to sleep before bedtime.
  • Combine sleep time with something that involves one of your senses. The smell of the same smell or the hearing of the same sound every night at night can help your mind learn when you need to feel tired and sleep. Try spraying the aromatic pillow spray on your sheets by lighting an aromatic candle or using an aromatic eye pillow. Lavender is a very relaxing scent. An audible machine with quiet sounds like the ocean, rain or white noise can also help you.
  • Use bedroom only for sleep and sex. Using your bedroom to work or perform other activities will cause your mind to associate the area with activities that may conflict with sleeping ability.
  • Make your bedroom a sanctuary to sleep. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet place with a comfortable bed. Determine what kind of pillows, sheets and blankets are the most comfortable for you. Some people want to sleep with little weight on them. others like heavier blankets. Hold the thermostat on a comfortable level. Exclude any shiny or fragments.
  • Take sunlight in the morning or during the day. Flow rates are set by light and darkness and are closely linked to sleep-wake cycles. Detecting natural light through your retina signifies that the brain is awake and alert. On the contrary, the absence of light signals our body producing melatonin, a sleep hormone. The contrast between light during the day and the darkness in your bedroom at night helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Remove the iPad and / or the smart phone before you get ready for the bed. Do not check the email before bedding. Electronic devices can pose a threat to sleep, not only because they keep your brain activated, but also because their light can disrupt melatonin production and prevent your ability to feel tired. It is better to avoid electronically at least half an hour to an hour before bedtime. That being said, many people relax before reading the bed. If you read on your electronic device, be sure to reduce the backlight or activate the "Night Shift" function.
  • Use relaxation techniques to relieve stress and tension. It is very difficult to fall and stay asleep if you are very anxious, you are ashamed of the stressful things that happened on the day or you can stabilize the things that happen in the future. Practical awareness techniques, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and other techniques can help slow down your mind and create a sense of peace that will be more conducive to sleep peacefully.

The usual things like locking the house, sipping a cup of tea, drinking your pajamas, washing your face and brushing your teeth can become rituals when they are performed regularly and steadily before bed.

How to close before bed

Remember that it is difficult to take advantage of these tools unless you exercise and get acquainted with them in moments when you are not already feeling anxious, excessively stressed or insomnia. Try them often and as you get comfortable with different techniques, they can be tools that will help you get to sleep faster.

  • Try hot baths or showers before bedtime. Bathing or showering can increase body temperature, which naturally causes drowsiness and can help you sleep faster.
  • Eat a good meal a few hours before bedtime. Going to bed hungry or feeling too full can affect your ability to sleep, so be careful what and when to eat in the evenings.
  • Exercise regularly. Surveys show that exercise reduces anxiety and contributes to better and more restful sleep. However, avoid strict exercise very close to bedtime if you find it impacts your ability to sleep.
  • Avoid physical and mental stimulation before bedtime. Excitement, including racing books, action / movie events and video games, can increase brain activity and heart rate, making it difficult to sleep. If you get into bed very soon after you participate in these activities, you may experience frustration about your inability to fall asleep quickly, which perpetuates sleep disturbances. Your body needs time to relax and slow down after practicing these activities and before getting into bed.
  • Avoid cutting if possible. For some people, small NAPs can energize and rejuvenate. However, the nappes, especially the long ones, can affect sleep-wake cycles and sabotage the ability to maintain a normal sleeping time.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon / evening. The effects of caffeine can last several hours, often creating the feeling of being wired or aside, which can affect the ability of some people to sleep.
  • Hold a glass of water from your bed. Having a glass of water near you can help you stay hydrated and allow you to quickly reach for a sip of water when you wake up thirsty at night. Keep anything else you may need to stay comfortable (chapstick, a sweatshirt if you tend to cool, etc.) near and avoid getting out of bed for anything but the bathroom.
  • Hide the clock or take a viewing clock. If you are someone who is constantly watching the clock, he is disappointed with how long he gets you to sleep and stabilize how little sleep you can get, hide the clock or resist looking at the time. A clock that shows time on the roof could help if you feel you need to know the time. Continuous scrolling and movement to look at the clock interferes with your ability to relax and can create feelings of anxiety and anxiety that make it even harder to fall asleep.
  • Try not to stress or stabilize the difficulties of sleeping. Stabilization in sleep difficulties only increases the problem. You know it takes some time, practice and trial and error to develop optimal sleep habits and ultimately create a better sleep. Be patient with yourself and know that good hygiene of sleep does not happen overnight.

If you are struggling with sleep or maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, consider applying these tips to see what can help. Be patient with you. It may take time to break bad habits and create healthier, but with time and persistence, you can discover better sleep hygiene and eventually train your body to get better rest.

Working with a therapist can help you find sleep strategies that work for you if you have a difficult time maintaining good sleep hygiene.


  1. Hygiene. (2018.) Retrieved from

© Copyright 2018 All rights reserved. The publication authorization was granted by Megan MacCutcheon, LPC, a therapist in Vienna, Virginia

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