Your Guide to Essential Sleep Hygiene
You’ve heard of personal hygiene (we sure hope), and now it’s time for sleep hygiene. No, that doesn’t just mean brushing your teeth extra well before bed. Nothing like that.
Sleep hygiene is all about cultivating healthy sleep habits. That way, when you finally lay your head down after a hard day’s work, you’re able to get some quality sleep.
Aka your foolproof system for sleeping this well
You don’t need to lose any sleep over figuring out essential sleep hygiene practices yourself, though. We’ve done all the hard work for you already. Just use these handy sleep hygiene checklists for kids, teens, and adults courtesy of the sleep gurus at Sheets & Giggles.
Sleep Hygiene for Kids
1. Set a bedtime
Ah, the dreaded bedtime. It’s the word no kid wants to hear, but a regular bedtime helps children sleep better. Set bedtime to at least 10 hours before they need to get up for kids aged 3-5 years, and at least 9 hours beforehand for kids aged 6-12 years.
2. Establish a routine
Research has found that kids sleep better when they stick to a consistent bedtime routine. When kids go through the same steps every day before bed, it can trick their brains into feeling tired and getting better sleep.
Here at S&G, part of our nighttime routine is bed leapfrog but you do you
3. Use a screen curfew
No kid is going to want to hear that they have another curfew, but a screen curfew can really make a difference in your child’s sleep. The blue light from screens like mobile devices and TVs can keep kids up longer. Try to set a screen curfew for at least an hour before bed to help your child wind down and fall asleep without devices.
4. Cut out caffeine
Even just a little caffeine can have a big impact on a child, especially when it comes to sleep. If you’re not going to cut out caffeine sources like soda, chocolate, and coffee from your child’s diet entirely, at least make sure they avoid it within six hours of bedtime.
Physical activity during the day can help kids fall asleep faster and experience deeper sleep at night. Strive for at least one hour of exercise every day but be sure not to cram it in right before bedtime.
Sleep Hygiene for Teens
Teens might not need as much sleep as young kids but it’s still absolutely essential that they get enough sleep. And a cat nap during math really doesn’t count, even if we’ve all been there once or twice. (Sorry, Mrs. Frostholm!)
Luckily, the same general sleep hygiene checklist that applies to kids also applies to teens.
Teens should be extra careful not to throw off their sleep schedules on the weekends. Staying up an extra hour or two on the weekend won’t make too much of a difference but staying up all night Saturday will make waking up on Monday even more strenuous. No one needs that.
As for how much sleep teens need, well, the answer is, ‘probably more than they’re getting.’ The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends between 8 and 10 hours per night.
Sleep Hygiene for Adults
All the tips and tricks above for kids and teens apply to adults, too.
Adults need to limit their screen time just like their younger counterparts. They should avoid caffeine (plus alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes) in the hours before going to bed. A set routine is still a good idea. Some things never change and sleep hygiene is one of them.
Beyond that, as much as a good nap might sound tempting around 4 o’clock, resist that urge. A nap, especially in the late afternoon, can totally throw off your ability to sleep well at night. Try to squeeze your nap in before 3 p.m.
If it sounds like sleep hygiene requires giving up all your vices and fun, that’s not entirely true. And besides, getting great sleep is quite the reward for sticking to sleep hygiene habits.
Better sleep, here we come!