Sleep hygiene is the combination of sleep environmental and behavioral practices that you can take part in to help promote a better quality and more restful sleep.

Sleep is a top indicator of your overall health. Poor sleep can have a direct impact on your daytime activities, mental health, alertness and physical health.

People who struggle with chronic pain are much more susceptible to poor sleep at night. Pain sufferers are much more likely to list environmental factors as the main contributor to poor sleep. Taking extra care to maintain a sound sleep environment is particularly important for those who suffer with daily pain.

The following are some helpful tips:

ENVIRONMENT:

Your sleep environment should be consistent from day to day. Where you sleep should be temperature controlled. Your room should be cool, but not cold, to promote restful sleep. The room should be as dark and quiet as possible. An uncomfortable temperature, bright lights and sound can disrupt continuous sleep, leaving you to wake up feeling tired and irritable.

You should choose the most comfortable mattress and pillow that best suits your needs. Bedroom sheets should be light weight, and breathable to prevent overheating while you sleep.

SCHEDULING:

Scheduling your sleep is another form of sleep hygiene. Consistent sleep times will also allow you to adopt sleep routines to ensure quality sleep. Adults require seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

Although daytime naps can be helpful when you have not have good sleep the night before, they can have a negative effect on your sleep the following night.

There is also a benefit in having a consistent wake time in the mornings.

ACTIVITIES:

It is important to turn off your work and worries for the day at least 30 minutes before your set bedtime. The bed should be a worry-free zone. Cell phone, laptops and any other electronic device should never be brought into the bed with you.

Bright lights before bed can have a negative effect on your sleep quality, interfering with your body’s own sleep-wake (light-dark) cycle. Cell phones, television screens and tablets should be avoided in bed.

Exercise plays an interesting role in sleep hygiene. While regular exercise is very beneficial to good quality sleep, exercise too close to bedtime can actually have a negative effect on your sleep at night, leaving you unable to fall asleep at a reasonable time.

DIET:

It is well known that coffee is a stimulant, and drinking coffee before bed may leave you lying in bed at night unable to fall asleep. There are many stimulants out there that are not recommended before bedtime. Coffee, chocolate, many teas, soft drinks and sugary snacks before bedtime can all be detrimental to your sleep at night.

Alcohol and cigarettes before bed will also have an effect on the duration of deep sleep, leading to sleep fragmentation.

Poor sleep has also been linked to increased hunger and consuming larger meals late at night. Eating a large meal too close to your bedtime makes it difficult for your body to metabolize you meal. It is advised that instead of consuming a larger, higher calorie meal late at night, a light snack would be a better choice to promote better sleep.