The term "hygiene" is often misunderstood as strictly being synonymous with "cleanliness." The true meaning of hygiene has to do with sets of practices, habits, and environmental influences that impact one's health. Hygiene of all kinds are important to your health and well-being as most are aimed at reducing your chances of coming into contact with diseases, getting infections, spreading germs and viruses, or preventing oral cavities and gingivitis.
If all of these other types of hygienic practices are aimed at preserving your health, exactly what is sleep hygiene and how can it help you in your everyday life?
The Importance of Quality Sleep
Getting a full night's sleep every night is important to people's overall health and happiness. Most of us are aware that when we lose a few hours of sleep, we are often tired and cranky the next day and have difficulty concentrating, staying alert, and being in a positive mood. And all of these things can occur after just one day of lost sleep.
If you're regularly losing sleep, you're putting yourself at risk to a whole slew of health issues and medical conditions including
It's mind blowing to think that all of these problems can occur simply from losing a few hours of sleep a night. In today's 24/7 world where our time is in high demand, many people feel that their sleep comes second to societal needs. With our professional, social, academic, and family lives requiring so much of our time, it's no wonder that so many people experience sleep deprivation.
How To Practice Sleep Hygiene
Many people may realize the impact that poor sleep quality is having on their daily lives, but may be unsure of what types of activities are contributing to their sleep loss, or simple practices they could be doing to ensure they get not only more sleep, but better sleep.
Many people believe that because they slept between the 7-9 hours of recommended nightly sleep, that they're doing things right. However, while getting enough hours of sleep is very important, getting quality sleep is more important. If you're doing things that are disruptive to your sleep, your body and mind are not truly resting enough to repair and prepare themselves for the next day.
Getting (or not getting) great sleep every night is often due to two important factors: your personal habits and your sleeping environment. The things you do during the day and leading up to sleeping at night can impact your sleep just as much as the environment you choose to sleep in. Optimizing both your personal habits and your sleep environment is paramount to successful sleep.
Your Sleep Environment
By following these best sleep hygiene practices on a nightly basis, you're almost guaranteed to get more fulfilling sleep at night and be more awake and alert during the day. That said, not all sleep problems are so easily treated and could signify the presence of a sleep disorder such as apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, or another clinical sleep problem. If your sleep difficulties don’t improve through good sleep hygiene, you may want to consult your physician or a sleep specialist.
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