Sleep hygiene doesn’t just mean changing your sheets regularly and taking off your makeup, it means having the good habits and practices to enable you to have a great sleep every night. There are certain behaviours and guidelines you should set yourself to ensure the best possible sleep hygiene for you. Here are some useful tips to help you achieve the best possible sleep in 2017.

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Keep it regular

Setting yourself a sleep schedule is a great way to regulate your sleeping pattern and train your body to know when it’s bedtime. The NHS advises us to ‘keep regular sleeping hours. This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine. Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.’

Additionally, devising your own bedtime routine will aid the natural progression into sleep. It’s important to choose a routine that will suit you- there’s no point doing yoga stretches or meditating if you aren’t really into it. Find what calms you down and do that. It’s often a good idea to have a warm bath, clear your mind and read a book instead of watching TV or using your smartphone.

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Stay healthy

Part of your new year plans may already be to improve your health. Whilst your motive may be to lose weight for aesthetic purposes, another huge benefit of getting fit is that it can help your sleep cycle dramatically. What you eat can be the deciding factor on sleeping well or not. As a rule of thumb, it’s good to avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugar and to eat a well balanced healthy diet throughout the day.

But can some foods promote good sleep? Sleep Council’s Yinka Thomas MSc suggests that ‘There are three substances that are key to understanding how nutrition can affect the brain chemistry that promotes good sleep: Tryptophan, Serotonin and Melatonin.’. This is because, in layman’s terms, when tryptophan reaches the brain, it becomes serotonin, which then transforms to melatonin- the chemical that makes you sleep. She goes on to discuss that the best sleep promoting food combination is protein-carbohydrate. A good example would be pumpkin or sunflower seeds with yoghurt.

Read More: Late Night Snacks That Won’t Give You Indigestion

Exercise is also a key component for a good night’s sleep. Thomas also states, ‘Sometimes sleeplessness can be caused simply because we have not been active enough during the day’. So as well as all of the known health benefits of exercising, it can also aid a proper, well deserved rest at the end of the day. It’s important not to overdo it though as this can be counterproductive and cause restlessness.

woman sleeping with phone / sleep hygiene

Sort your space

Sleeping well is not just enhanced by what you do but also by your environment. It may seem obvious, but having a calm, inviting space to rest is a key element of a good night’s sleep. It’s a good idea to keep the room a neutral temperature so that you are comfortable and open a window to let air ventilate around the room (providing it is not too cold). You should limit the amount of time you spend in your bedroom other than for resting, as this way your body will recognise that this is a space for sleep. After all, there’s nothing like your own bed.

Another key component is to keep your room as dark as possible. Your body only produces melatonin most effectively in complete darkness so any light can hinder your sleeping experience. Cover up small lights on TVs and leave hall lights off to ensure a restful night.

Do you have any more tips on improving sleep hygiene? Let us know in the comments!