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What is sleep hygiene you may well ask? The definition given by the National Sleep Foundation is that “sleep hygiene is the variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality night time sleep and full daytime alertness.”
The key word here is practices, as to maintain good sleep hygiene requires getting into good habits and sticking with them. While most people will automatically have reasonably good sleep hygiene as in some respects it is a combination of good sense mixed with biological imperatives, there are many people who have woeful sleep hygiene. If you want to find out how good your sleep hygiene is then take this 7 question test.
1. Do you keep a regular sleep schedule? Do you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning at around the same time every day of the week including weekends? If you answer no then you need to make sure you stick to a regular schedule as it helps your body clock regulate your sleep wake cycle. Every late night and sleep in plays havoc with this key internal timing mechanism and all the physiological processes required to put you to sleep and wake you up.
2. Do you get between 6.5-7.5 hours of sleep each night? Many studies have shown that the optimum amount of sleep is between 6.5-7.5 hours. Over sleeping is as bad as under sleeping and both have a range of negative short term and long term consequences from irritability all the way up to early death.
3. Do you avoid drinking coffee and alcohol at night? Both of these are terrible for your sleep. Coffee’s impact on sleep is well known, alcohol’s less so. Alcohol disturbs your sleep patterns, reducing the quality and quantity of your sleep.
4. Do you have a restful bedtime routine? It is important that you start relaxing before you go to bed, you want to start winding down a few hours before you try to get to sleep. Once in bed read a book or simply do some relaxing stretches to help you go to sleep.
5. Is your bedroom comfortable, inviting, and dedicated to sleep only? Your bedroom should be primed for sleep and sleep only. This means not having lots of digital devices or other disturbances in there. Create a sleep inducing space.
6. Do you get both the daylight and darkness you need? Our body clock is synchronised by light levels. Make sure you are exposed to as much light during the day and as little as possible during the night.
7. Do you get daily exercise? Exercising on a daily basis can promote healthy sleep, but make sure that you get your exercise done during the day as doing it later on at night can make it harder to get to sleep.
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