Your habits, especially before bedtime, have a major impact on your sleep quality. "Sleep hygiene" is a serie of healthy habits that help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
Understand and respect your body’s natural sleep cycle
Stop and observe. Understand your body and your sleep cycle. Each individual has its own sleep characteristics. Some people function better during the morning, while others are more productive during the evening. Plan your daily activities according to your sleep profile and avoid morning routines or late-hour work if you are not comfortable with it.
Go to bed and wake-up at the same time every day. Weekends included! Consistent sleep habits regulate your sleep cycle, making falling asleep and waking up easier. This is the hardest thing for most people but also what will have the most impact.
Afternoon naps will help if you had a poor night. You will be more productive during the rest of the day. However, do not nap for more than 15-25 minutes as this will interfere with your sleep cycle.
Control your light exposure
Melatonin is a natural hormone that controls our sleep cycle. High intensity and blueish light lower the release of this hormone, while low-intensity yellow lights increase its release to induce sleep.
Exposing yourself to the sunlight in the morning will increase your energy levels. It’s why the majority of us are more productive earlier in the day. Expose yourself to natural light as much as possible during the day, this will increase the contrast with the evening and will regulate your sleep cycle.
At night, avoid looking at screens a couple hours before bedtime. Screens emit a blueish light, similar to what you can find in the sunlight. This will confuse your sleep cycle and delay the release of melatonin. If, like most of us, you find this impossible, look at blue light filtering options.
Food and drink habits
Caffeine may disrupt your sleep several hours after its consumption. Avoid consuming excessive coffee 8 hours before your bedtime. Nicotine is also an stimulant that should be avoided 3 hours before going to bed.
While alcohol may help you feel relaxed, it may interfere negatively with your sleep cycle. It also have diuretic effects, which may cause constant trips to the bathroom during the night.
Prefer light snacks or small meals in the evening. Large and heavy meals should be avoided before going to bed as they might provoke acid reflux in susceptible people.
Set up a good environment
A good sleeping environment should be like a cave: cool, dark and silent. Close the blinds and curtains. Turn off the devices emitting light or sound. You can even put duct tapes on the light sources that cannot be switched off.
Keep your bed clean and comfortable. If you often wake up with neck or back pain, try to different levels of mattress firmness and pillow heights.
Your bedroom is sacred. Do not work, eat or watch tv in it. Your bed should be for sleeping and sex only. You should unconsciously associate your bedroom with sleeping. Awake for more than 20 minutes in the middle of the night? Leave your room and go read somewhere until you feel drowsy again.
Temperature is fundamental for sleep quality. Our body temperature drops by as much as 1°C during the night (1.8°F). This is where Moona has an impact. By intelligently regulating the temperature through the head/shoulders area, Moona can help you fall asleep faster, improve sleep quality and help you wake up in the morning.
Regular physical exercise is one of the pillars of good health. It helps with sleep as well! Physical activity reduces your stress levels, and thus insomnia. However, it’s important to exercise early. Too much activity in the evening increase your body temperature, having the opposite effect in your sleep quality.
Avoid over-stimulating activities before bedtime. Heavy use of social media or working in the evening might keep your brain activity high enough to cause sleep problems.
Do not get anxious about your bedtime. If you can’t fall asleep, do not look at the clock. A surprising study by the University of Glasgow showed the importance of our mindset. Researchers asked a group of insomniacs to stay awake as long as they could on their bed. They asked another group of insomniacs to fall asleep as soon as possible. Guess who fell asleep much faster? Those who were trying to stay awake!
Falling asleep is not something we can control and forcing it will make things worse. This is due to performance anxiety: by trying, and failing, to fall asleep, you’ll get stressed and it will become even harder to get to sleep. The start of a vicious cycle.