The Sleep Blog

The Saga Sleep staff share their best sleep tips, interesting sleep facts from leading scientists and much more!
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The Sleep Blog

What is sleep hygiene?

Many may have heard the term “sleep hygiene” as a descriptor for behaviors and environmental factors which can promote sleep and alleviate insomnia. But what does it mean?

The origin of the term “sleep hygiene” is not entirely clear. It has been ascribed to the American psychologist Nathaniel Kleitman, a man often called “The father of sleep research”, and who wrote the seminal book Sleep and Wakefulness in 1939. However, the concept of sleep hygiene was described already in 1864 in a book by Italian neurologist Paolo Mantegazza (PMID: 22752854). Thus, the idea that certain behaviours and environments can influence the ability to sleep and to sleep well is not new!
In modern sleep medicine, the term sleep hygiene was popularised in the late 1970’s by psychologist Peter Hauri, who developed a set of sleep hygiene “rules” for promoting sleep. Later, during the 1990s, “Inadequate Sleep Hygiene” was included in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD), as a subcategory of insomnia.

The term sleep hygiene as it is used today refers to behaviors, routines, environmental conditions and other factors that can be adjusted to promote sleep. These can include ensuring that the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet, and refraining from excitement or intense exercise close to bedtime. Good sleep hygiene is recommended for both children and adults, as a good night’s sleep is essential to health and well-being. An increasing number of adults and children experience sleep problems, and practicing good sleep hygiene can be key to getting a healthy amount of sleep.

We have consulted Swedish Sleep scientist Frida Rångtell, PhD in Sleep and Memory at Uppsala University, to bring you her best recommendations for good sleep hygiene practices.
Here are her top tips for improving your sleep hygiene!

  • Think about how you use electronic gadgets in the evening. Do you use them to listen to a calm audiobook, mindfulness training or relaxing music? This is a good way of using electronics before bed! If this is not what you use your electronic equipment for, try to minimize its use 1-2 hours before sleep, especially social media, checking the news, and any work-related activities. The reason for this is that it creates a hightened emotional state that can disturb your sleep. Try the Saga Sleep app for sleep stories, sounds and relaxing music to help you calm down before bed.
  • Try to stick to regular sleep times. Go to bed, and get up from bed, at similar times every day, including weekends (your body does not know or understand that it is the weekend all of a sudden).
  • Write down thoughts before bed time - but do not do it in the bedroom. Find a comfortable, safe place, and consider this “you” time during the day. If. You have issues, problems or stressors, it helps to acknowledge and think about them. Writing them down during the day means that at night, when you should be sleeping, you can let them go as they are safely stored in writing.
  • Find sleep times that work for you. Some of us get tired early in the evening and wake up early, while some of us get tired a bit later in the evening and wake up later in the morning. There is no scientific evidence which supports that a specific number of hours of sleep is the key to sleeping well.
  • Most people wake up several times during the night, sometimes even without remembering it. Just because you may not sleep through the night without waking up, does not mean that you sleep poorly. Adjust your bedtime and wake-up time so that any wakefulness in the night does not lead you to sleeping less than you need. Choose what works for you - there is no optimal time for sleeping. 

At Saga Sleep, we are happy and proud to have made an app which can help improve the sleep hygiene practices for your whole family. Switch on your favourite sleep story 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep and let the calm voices of your favourite celebrities carry you into your dreams. The reason why our sleep stories work is because they do not demand that the person listening feels tired, or require any active relaxation activities. They are just stories, without pressing the expectation of sleep onto the person listening. Thus, when listening to our sleep stories, you do not feel stressed to fall asleep, which in itself will help you relax and go to sleep.

Sleep Science Sleep Tips