What it is, why it’s important, and how to cultivate it

One of the most important qualities of good, restorative sleep is something you might not have heard of: sleep hygiene.

Chances are, you might know what sleep hygiene is, even if you don’t know the name. Sleep Foundation describes strong sleep hygiene as “having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep.” The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) both describe it as simply “good sleep habits.”

Emphasis on “habit” – because doing them every time, consistently, over a period of time is what truly proves beneficial more than the single impact of any one of these things. 

Our bodies rely on routines of all kinds and our sleep routine is the most important one of all. Having a good sleep routine can help you do anything from wake up in the dark of winter, wake up more reliably, resist sleep inertia, and sleep for a 3rd shift or swing-shift job. Adjusting sleep routines could be one of the first treatments for insomnia or night terrors

Now, our sleep quality (obviously) isn’t just determined by our bedtime. It’s determined by a whole plethora of factors, including what we do during the day. 

Daytime activities:

  • Eat well – while good diet influences all aspects of health, its timing is also important. Try not to eat anything heavy in the 3-4 hours before bed. 
  • Exercise – movement tires the body and the body being tired will help the mind be tired, too. 
  • Get sunlight – light helps you keep your circadian rhythm in line, keeping your body rising and sleeping with the planetary rhythms. 
  • Avoid alcohol – while alcohol can help some fall asleep more quickly, your sleep will be more fitful and less restorative. In addition, alcohol abuse can even negate the effect of falling asleep quickly.

Wind-down tips:

  • Have sleep rituals – whether it’s soothing music, a cup of non-caffeinated tea, reading time, stretches, or meditation, doing the same calming thing right before bed will help your body figure out that it’s bedtime. 
  • Try not to clock-watch – stressing out about how many hours you have before you need to wake up again is a surefire way to keep yourself from actually sleeping. Try to resist the urge or distract yourself. 
  • Limit blue-light right before bed – electronics stimulate your brain and wake it up – highly counterproductive for trying to go to bed. 
  • Get up & try again – if you haven’t been able to get to sleep after about 20 minutes, CCI suggests getting up to “do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again.”

Sleep environment tweaks: 

  • Regulate temperature – make sure the room is a comfortable temperature! Most people like a cool bedroom with several blankets to enhance coziness. 
  • Light & darkness – ensure that your sleeping room can get dark enough to allow you to sleep and get enough light to help wake you up, if possible.
  • Choose noise level – if you need silence to sleep, then make sure there’s nothing noisy in your sleeping room. If you need noise, choose those noises carefully and use them regularly. 
  • Choose a good arrangement – the arrangement of your room can also help you feel calm or stressed. Arrange your room with whatever needs you and your spouse have – if you want inspiration, you can even try principles of feng shui to give your room an extra-calming feel! 
  • Use the bed ONLY for bed activities – use your bed exclusively for sleep and sleep-related activities, and your body will have an easier time falling asleep there. 

But above all: 

  • Be consistent – doing one of these things once helps in the short-term, but the benefits of making any or all of these habits consistent helps the benefits compound over the long-term. 

You probably already do some of these things – and that’s great! You can use some of the other things in this list to supplement your current sleep routine. 

But if you lay down and realize your mattress is a rock, then that’s going to be a thorn in your side… or back… or stomach… until you find something better. Wolf mattresses can help be a part of your sleep hygiene upgrade! Find a mattress that works for you today.