Health Tips

How's Your Sleep Hygiene? Here Are Simple Tips to Improve It

03/14/2022

As millions of households across the U.S. spring forward for Daylight Saving Time, many Americans find themselves struggling to adjust to the shift in their sleep schedules. While most need only a few days to recover after the time change, springing forward reminds us just how important good sleep hygiene is — and how much of an impact quality of sleep has on our daily lives.  

Perhaps that’s exactly why the National Sleep Foundation launched Sleep Awareness Week to coincide with Daylight Saving Time. Even losing just one hour of sleep can alter our brain performance and mood the next day. Poor sleep habits sustained over a long period of time can have a detrimental effect on our physical as well as mental wellbeing.  

According to the National Institute of Health, sleep is just as important as exercise and diet for good health. Without regular quality sleep, we put ourselves at higher risk for a range of diseases and disorders, including heart disease, stroke, obesity and dementia1. 

Getting a good night’s sleep is about more than just resting. Uninterrupted, adequate sleep allows the brain to remove potentially harmful toxins, while enabling the body to repair blood vessels and restore the immune system. Without enough quality sleep, these processes aren’t able to do their jobs properly, which leaves the brain and body vulnerable to illness1.  

So how much sleep is enough to do the body good? The CDC recommends that adults get seven or more hours of sleep per night2. Still, 41% of adult women and 39% of adult men in the U.S. sleep six hours or less3. Getting enough quality sleep can be challenging, especially given the many distractions, responsibilities, and stressors of modern life.  

Fortunately, there are some simple, practical steps you can take to improve both your quantity and quality of sleep. Start here. 

  1. Create a sleep schedule. Set aside 7-8 hours every night for sleep, and stick to it. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  1. Watch what you eat and drink. Going to bed hungry could cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, while going to bed stuffed might bring on discomfort.  Avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol, which have been shown to disrupt sleep.
  1. Create a good sleep environment. A cool, dark and quiet room is best for sleeping. Reserve the bedroom just for sleep and intimate activities, and avoid watching TV, checking social media, or working on your laptop in bed.
  1. Limit screen time. Put away laptops, mobile phones, tablets and screens at least an hour before bedtime to minimize exposure to sleep-disturbing blue light. Read our post about limiting screen time to learn more.
  1. Don’t take naps. Try to avoid long daytime naps that can interfere with your nighttime sleep. If you do nap, keep it under 30 minutes and take them earlier in the day.
  1. Be active. Getting exercise and engaging in physical activity during the day can promote better sleep at night.
  1. Get outside. Spending time outdoors and in the sun can also help improve sleep quality.
  1. Manage stress. Stress, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders can have a significant impact on sleep quality. If you spend your nights worrying instead of sleeping, consider taking steps to reduce your stress and anxiety. Meditation, yoga and exercise can help. If these feelings persist, talk to your doctor about ways to help manage your mood.

 

If your sleep problems continue no matter what you try, reach out to your healthcare provider for help. There may be an underlying health issue impacting your sleep. Some health plans may also offer resources and tools to help you track, manage and improve your sleep hygiene and habits. If you’re interested in learning more about sleep, download our infographic here.

If you’re looking for a more holistic approach to health coverage that includes sleep quality, we’ll help you find it. Call us at (800) 467-4898. We sleep better at night knowing you’re healthier and happier. 

 

  1. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2021/04/good-sleep-good-health
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html
  3. https://startsleeping.org/statistics/

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