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Sleep hygiene – what is it and how to improve it?

Sleep Hyigene

As we continue to celebrate Sleep Awareness Week, it is important to learn about sleep hygiene and how to improve it in our day-to-day routines. The term ‘Sleep hygiene’ relates to sleep habits and their effect on the quality and quantity of sleep we obtain. Practising good sleep hygiene will improve an individual’s daily productivity, quality of life and is important for both physical and mental health.

Our Fatigue Risk Management experts at Clockwork Research have put together a helpful list in preparing your daytime, evening and even bedroom environment to improve your sleep hygiene:

Daytime preparation

  • Schedule social and domestic responsibilities to allow enough time for sleep.
  • Try to get lots of light exposure during the day, particularly in the morning, to help improve daytime alertness and regulate the production of melatonin – the ‘sleep’ hormone – making it easier to fall asleep at night.
  • If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, try avoiding daytime naps.

Evening preparation 

  • Avoid caffeine too close to bedtime, as it takes at least 4 hours for caffeine to stop having an alerting effect.
  • Do some light exercise, such as light stretches or an evening walk but avoid strenuous exercise as this can interfere with sleep.
  • Take a warm shower or bath.
  • Don’t go to bed too full or too hungry. If you are hungry, a light snack can help.
  • Avoid alcohol as it causes disruption to later stages of sleep.
  • Avoid nicotine, as this is a mild stimulant.
  • Write a to-do list before you go to bed to help reduce worry about things you have to do the next day.
  • Try practising mindfulness to help fall asleep more quickly. Try our sleep tips for help getting to sleep. Also, apps like Headspace and Buddhify are free and guide you through mindfulness exercises.

Preparing your bedroom

  • Keep your room well ventilated and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Block out light and noise using blackout blinds or an eye mask, and earplugs or a source of white noise (e.g. a fan).
  • Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable.
  • Avoid blue light from screens, such as phones, tablets, TVs etc. before bed as it has an alerting effect. Ideally, turn these devices off at least 1 hour before bed or use night mode or lux, which filter out the blue light.
  • Exclude computers and televisions from the bedroom can help lead you to naturally associate the room with sleep.
  • If possible, establish a bedroom routine, including going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time in the morning – the snooze button is not your friend! Try setting an alarm 30min before your bedtime to remind you to wind down and start preparing for bed.
  • Set your bedtime to make sure that you can obtain your sleep need – if you know you need 7h of sleep a night, aim for at least 7h30m in bed to minimise the chances of sleep loss.

If you have on-going difficulty sleeping, or your partner says you snore loudly, or stop breathing in your sleep, these might be signs of a sleep disorder. In this case, it is best to seek advice from a medical professional. They can recommend varied investigations, and treatments, for example by referring you to a sleep clinic.

Clockwork Research delivers innovative and effective Fatigue Risk Management solutions for clients across various sectors of the aviation industry. If you have any enquiries about any of our Fatigue Risk Management services please contact info@clockworkresearch.com