Adequate sleep plays a significant role in our life, in particular with our health and coping ability. When we effectively manage our sleep hygiene, we can increase our overall happiness.
Ah, coveted sleep. Remember those teenage years when you could sleep until noon? Sleep is so essential to your overall well-being, and it’s associated with how you cope with stress. Cleaning up your sleep hygiene is a self-management strategy that impacts your life.
The amount of sleep we get and need varies with each individual. Some people boast about how little sleep they get and how much they can accomplish in a day, while others will tell you how much sleep they need to manage their day.
The actual amount of sleep needed is dependent upon several things like the quality of our sleep, our age, and if we are feeling sleep deprived. Here’s the thing; sleep is as vital as food and water. Regardless of how much sleep one needs compared to others, one thing is for sure; getting adequate sleep hygiene will make you healthier.
How much sleep do we actually need to stay healthy?
Adults require seven to nine hours of sleep every day, and adults aged 65 and above function best if they sleep for seven to eight hours a day. Sleep patterns change as one gets older. Older adults are generally light sleepers and take short naps rather than sleep for long hours.
As I become familiar with my clients, it becomes evident how sleep patterns affect their functionality. When you arrive at work unrested, your ability to effectively deal with the many challenges and conflicts that arise significantly decreases. We may have difficulty concentrating, staying alert, and being in a positive mood. Even one sleepless night can make us tired and irritable the following day.
Sometimes we’re unable to sleep because we are anxious or have trouble shutting down our minds. ‘Sleep hygiene’ is often overlooked, but it can have life-changing effects! When we put our children to bed, usually it’s part of a routine including a bath, reading them a book or listening to music. Rarely would we expect them to go to sleep directly from play mode and expect them to fall asleep quickly? Therefore, why do we assume that of ourselves? It’s challenging to go from fully engaged, to shut down instantly. Sleep hygiene consists of routines or habits that promote more restful and restorative sleep.
Health Issues Associated with Poor Sleep Hygiene
The key to having a balanced mind and life is the quality of your sleep, and good sleep hygiene equals quality sleep. If you are not getting restful sleep regularly, you are putting yourself at risk for numerous health issues and medical conditions including:
- Heart attacks
- Cognitive impairment
- Memory loss
- Chronic stress
- Heart arrhythmia
- Increased likelihood of accidents
- Mood disorders
Benefits to Cleaning Up Your Sleep Hygiene
The benefits of cleaning up your sleep hygiene are worth it! Patience, flexibility, and alertness are the first things to go when we don’t get a good night’s sleep. Our brains need to recharge and store or discard memories from the day so that we can wake up feeling rested and ready for another day.
Simple steps to assist in proper sleep hygiene:
- Get at least twenty minutes of morning sunlight.
- Turn off the computer one hour before bedtime.
- Keep your bed for sleeping.
- Avoid caffeine, especially in the evening.
How to set up the ultimate sleep environment:
- Electronics out of the bedroom
- Your room dark, quiet and cool
- Your bed as comfortable as possible
Living a fast-paced life is what I have coined the “drive-by life phenomenon.” It is one of the most significant contributors to poor sleep hygiene. When you consider how vital your waking hours are, it makes perfect sense to ensure that you take care of your mind, body, and spirit by ensuring you get the best quality of sleep possible.
As you work toward strengthening your sleep hygiene, you will develop your emotional intelligence, which benefits you in numerous ways. If you would like to improve your emotional intelligence, consider taking a self-assessment to provide a personal analysis of your perception of your behaviour.
This article was originally published on January 14, 2017, and has been updated (June 2020)
Are you Emotionally Intelligent?
Sign up for Linda’s monthly tips to build your Emotional Intelligence and reduce Emotional Hijacking!