What is Sleep Hygiene?

November 30, 2023 · Morgan Jackson

Understanding Sleep Hygiene: Habits & Science Behind the Rest You Deserve

The average human takes 66 days to form new habits — whether you’re training yourself to exercise daily, connect with family members, or play a new instrument. Habits form the foundation for daily actions like meals, work, and socialization. Your life is largely the sum of the habits you create, good or bad, and your dedication to them.

When it comes to immediate health and wellness, few habits are as important as your daily sleep regimen.

Sleep hygiene — a collection of habits that create healthy sleep — is a major factor in determining your mood, productivity, and mental capacity. Like other habits, your sleep hygiene can change over time. The habits you reinforce will become stronger; just as easily, sleep habits you ignore will weaken or dissolve. Given how important sleep is for systems like digestion, respiration, and memory, sleep hygiene is continually important for keeping your body at its best.

Let’s explore sleep hygiene and the practices that create better rest on a nightly basis.

What factors contribute to better sleep?

A restful night’s sleep doesn’t happen by accident. High-quality sleep is a deliberate process, one that begins well before it’s time to turn in for the night. Seasoned sleeps often follow a sleep hygiene checklist that features morning, afternoon, and evening priorities. Over time, these practices become habits that positively influence how you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake energized the next morning.

Morning Sleep Hygiene: Set the Stage

Your morning routine sets the tone for the day ahead, including the quality of your sleep at night. 


Here are some key elements to incorporate into your morning routine:


    • Stick to a consistent wake-up time: Establishing a consistent wake-up time helps regulate your body's internal clock.
  • Embrace natural light: As soon as you wake up, open the blinds or curtains to let in natural light. If possible, spend a few minutes outside to directly expose yourself to sunlight.
  • Engage in light physical activity: Get your blood flowing and prepare your body for the day ahead. This can include gentle stretching, a short yoga session, or taking a brisk walk.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking water in the morning kickstarts digestion, aids in detoxification, and prepares your body to absorb nutrients from breakfast.
  • Prioritize mental health: Dedicate a few minutes to mental health practices that help reduce stress and promote a positive mindset.

    By establishing a regular morning routine that incorporates these elements, you can set yourself up for a strong sleep-wake cycle and ensure a positive start to your day.

    Afternoon Sleep Hygiene: An Exercise in Persistence

    As the day progresses, the significance of sleep hygiene becomes increasingly apparent.

    As your day reaches the afternoon:

    • Opt for a light, nutritious lunch: Choosing a light lunch helps prevent discomfort or digestive issues that may interfere with your sleep later on.
    • Take breaks during work hours: Incorporating regular breaks during your workday is crucial for maintaining productivity, especially if you spend long hours in front of a screen.
    • Participate in physical activity: Light to moderate exercise during the afternoon can help keep your body and mind engaged.
    • Continue to hydrate: Drink more water to maintain proper hydration levels and help your body distribute nutrients from meals.

    Staying mindful of your sleep hygiene habits in the afternoon helps your mind and body transition toward evening sleep.

    Evening Sleep Hygiene: Time to Wind Down

    The evening presents a valuable opportunity to reap the benefits of a day filled with sleep hygiene practices.

    In the evening:

    • Dim the lights: Reduce overall brightness levels in your home, particularly artificial light.
    • Limit your use of technology: Refrain from using smartphones, tablets, or computers for at least 60 minutes before bedtime.
    • Create a calm environment: Address any sources of noise that may disturb your sleep by using a sleep machine or playing white noise. Set a comfortable temperature in your bedroom that keeps you peacefully asleep.
    • Hydrate: Evening hydration helps regulate your body temperature, prevents dehydration, aids in toxin elimination through sweat, and promotes overall well-being.

    Instead of engaging with computer and phone screens, opt for more relaxing activities like reading a book or practicing relaxation techniques.

    How Can I Improve My Sleep Hygiene?

    Tonight’s sleep is closely linked to tomorrow’s well-being. Your sleep duration and quality both have a profound effect on various aspects of personal wellness — from immune system functionality to post-workout recovery. Sleep can also affect your cardiovascular health, skin, and reproductive health.

    Improving your sleep hygiene is one of the fastest ways to improve those and other aspects of your health. It means focusing on five different principles: valuing, protecting, personalizing, trusting, and prioritizing your sleep.

    Consider these principles when choosing which sleep hygiene habits to pursue and which to avoid.

    Do: Keep a Sleep Journal

    Alongside treatment methods for sleep conditions like light therapy and melatonin supplements, sleep doctors often sleep journaling as a way to document sleep-related thoughts and observations.

    A sleep journal is a logbook where you can track any and all information about your sleep patterns. Many people choose to keep a physical sleep journal by their bedside, jotting down details about their sleep patterns upon waking up. Others prefer to maintain a digital sleep journal, using their phones or computers to store information.

    The information you record in your sleep journal may vary depending on the challenges you face in achieving restful sleep. Many people choose to write about their sleep hygiene habits, diet, exercise frequency, screen time, stressful situations, and any other factors that may contribute to their sleep profile.

    Used correctly, a sleep journal can absolutely help you achieve better rest each night. By noting symptoms, interruptions, habits, and patterns that affect your sleep quality and duration, you can increase your awareness of any sleep-related conditions. For instance, you might start noticing correlations between your when you use your phone and how long it takes you to fall asleep afterwards,

    Sleep journals also help you develop a personalized sleep routine. Once you’ve identified the factors surrounding your sleep patterns, you can create a sleep process that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

    Do: Invest in the Right Mattress

    Among other sleep hygiene habits like drinking water and sticking to a bedtime routine, there’s another practice that helps promote sleep quality: investing in the right mattress.

    Investing in a top-notch mattress is one of the quickest ways to improve your sleep hygiene and overall sleep quality. Here are some of the key benefits of a high-quality mattress:

    • Pressure and pain point relief: A good mattress should help alleviate pressure points, particularly on joints and fatigued muscles.
    • Motion isolation: A quality mattress minimizes motion transfer, allowing you and your sleep partner to move without disturbing each other's sleep.
    • Snoring reduction: Certain mattresses can help open your airways, reducing snoring episodes and enhancing your sleep quality.
    • Temperature regulation: The right mattress helps regulate your core body temperature, ensuring a comfortable sleep environment throughout the night.
    • Improved circulation: A quality mattress promotes proper blood circulation to your extremities, preventing discomfort and promoting healthier sleep.

    The right mattress can also help alleviate allergies, reduce body stiffness, and contribute to proper spinal alignment.

    Here are a few features to prioritize when looking for the right mattress:

    • Optimal body support: Ensure that the mattress provides adequate support for your body, independently suspending your arms and legs while gently cradling your neck and head.
    • Comfortable, reliable materials: Different mattress materials, such as memory foam, innerspring, or hybrid constructions, offer unique benefits. Consider your sleep preferences and choose materials that create the best sleep environment for you.
    • Test-and-See Guarantee: You shouldn't have to make a purchase without knowing if a product suits your needs. Look for mattresses that come with a guarantee of at least 3 months. This allows you ample time to try the mattress and determine whether it meets your sleep requirements.

    Investing in a high-quality mattress is an essential component of your journey toward better sleep.

    Avoid: Caffeine

    If you're part of the brave 7% of Americans who abstain from caffeine, this section isn’t for you. may not be relevant to you. For the other 93% of us, caffeine is a staple for boosting energy throughout the day. Whether it's a cup of coffee, tea, or an energy drink, caffeine provides a reliable morning jumpstart that helps us face the day

    Caffeine is a potent stimulant. It can enhance wakefulness for approximately 3 to 5 hours by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, which promote sleepiness. However, caffeine can negatively affect sleep quality in various ways:

    • Sleep onset delay: Caffeine inhibits the brain's adenosine receptors, delaying the onset of sleepiness.
    • Decreased deep sleep: Caffeine reduces slow-wave sleep (SWS), also known as deep sleep, which plays a crucial role in memory consolidation, immune function, and cellular regeneration.
    • Increased sleep latency: Caffeine can prolong the time it takes to fall asleep, increasing the transition period between wakefulness and sleep.
    • Withdrawal symptoms: Reducing caffeine intake can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and anxiety.
    • Interference with sleep disorders: Caffeine can exacerbate symptoms of sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.
    • Elevated heart rate: Caffeine will often raise your heart rate, making it harder to wind down and fall asleep.

    It's important to note that individual reactions to caffeine may vary. Factors like metabolism, food sensitivity, and overall caffeine tolerance can influence how caffeine affects each person.

    Avoid: Blue Light

    Blue light, emitted often by phones, televisions, and computers, can significantly affect your sleep-wake cycle. While blue light exposure during the day has minimal health consequences and can even improve mood and alertness, evening exposure can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle by suppressing sleep hormones and preventing the body from winding down.

    Excessive exposure to blue light negatively affects sleep in several ways:

    • Delayed sleep onset: Blue light tricks the brain into believing it is still daytime, delaying the onset of sleep.
    • Suppressed melatonin production: Melatonin, the "sleep hormone," regulates the body's circadian rhythm and signals the onset of sleep. Blue light disrupts melatonin production, signaling to the body that it is not yet time to rest.
    • Compromised sleep hygiene: Blue light interferes with sleep hygiene, the practices that promote restful sleep. By delaying sleep onset and hormone production, blue light undermines the creation of a comfortable bedtime environment and hinders the overall quality of sleep.

    Fortunately, there are measures you can take to mitigate the impact of blue light on your sleep: Activate the "Night Mode" feature on your devices, which reduces the amount of blue light emitted. Install dim lighting or a dimmer switch to reduce the amount of emitted blue light in the sleeping environment. Eliminate blue light exposure during the evening by keeping electronic devices, including phones, out of the bedroom.

    The Science behind the Sleep You Need

    Sleep is a critical bodily process on so many levels. It gives your body time to heal while replenishing the energy you’ll need for the next day. To give yourself the best chance for a solid night’s rest, it's important to understand the science behind positive sleep conditions.

     At Mattress Warehouse, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Our patented bedMATCH sleep diagnostic system considers 18 different sleep metrics —  from weight to height to body type —  before making personalized mattress recommendations. It helps you understand your body’s individual sleep needs, pairing you with a mattress already optimized to help maximize sleep quality and longevity.

    Take our bedMATCH sleep quiz to learn which mattress options pair well with your sleep specifications, making sleep hygiene a deliberate priority and long-term investment.