Fitness, Mind & Body

What is sleep hygiene and how can you improve yours?

Our resident sleep expert, Olivia Arezzolo explains why you should approach your sleep hygiene with the same zest as your skincare routine.

Sleep hygiene is a term you’ve probably heard, but may not understand – and to be honest, not even I fully conceptualised what this exactly meant prior until a few years ago.

Essentially, sleep hygiene relates to your sleep related environment and behaviour. Typically, this is all around what you’re doing before bed, through the night and in your bedroom.

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However, this also extends to daytime recommendations too – e.g. limiting caffeine after 12. If you’re aware and mindful of what these principles are, you can use this insight to sleep better.

Needless to say, let’s cut to the chase: what are my top 4 sleep hygiene recommendations?

Practice my signature bedtime routine

This one is number one for a reason – it’s the most important. Execute diligently, each night, and as my private clients have seen, you too will notice improvements in your sleep – in 7 days or less.

Expose yourself to at least 20 minutes of morning light, immediately upon waking

This resets the circadian rhythm and suppresses sleepiness hormone melatonin, which will otherwise leave you fatigued.

I place this recommendation as second because if you’re less sleepy in the morning, you’re less likely to reach for sleep sabotaging caffeine to start your day – or perhaps not as much of it.

Limit caffeine after 12

Even 6 hours before bed, a clinical trial noted caffeine can reduce sleep length by more than 1 hour, and double the time taken to fall asleep.

While 12pm is more than 6 hours before your bedtime, know that in a sleep deprived state, you have an exaggerated response to caffeine – it affects you more than it would a well rested person. Hence, if your not sleeping enough, you need a caffeine cut off time hours before bed – aka the afternoon hours.

Allow enough space for sleep

Often when working with private clients, particularly those who run businesses / manage households / do both, they simply don’t have enough scheduled time to sleep enough.

Between late night commitments and early starts for work, plain and simple, there is logistically not enough time for sleep. Planning in advance is key – schedule 7-9 hours each night, the ‘runway’ you need to sleep sufficiently.

Olivia Arezzolo is a sleep expert who holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology); Certificate of Sleep Psychology and a Diploma of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine); and Certificate of Fitness III + IV. Olivia is passionate about delivering straightforward, science-based strategies to improve sleep.