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3 things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene

Sleep quality can affect life expectancy, study says
Sleep quality can affect life expectancy, study says 02:03

Having trouble with your sleep? It may be time to check in on your sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene is all about "best practices you can do every day (and) build into your daily routine to optimize your sleep," explains Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, a consultant to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Sleep hygiene involves several components which can all play a role in how well you sleep.

To improve your sleep hygiene, here are 3 things she suggests keeping in mind:

Sleeping environment: "You want a cool, dark, quiet sleep environment," Flynn-Evans says. "If you live on a noisy street... using white noise would be a really good thing."

If sunlight is coming through your windows too early in the morning, blackout shades are another tool she suggests to "make sure your sleep environment stays as it should from the time you try to go to sleep until the time you wake up."

Bedtime: It may sound like a childish concept, but having a regular bedtime and wake-up time is associated with all kinds of positive health outcomes, Flynn-Evans says.

"In the past, we've thought about sleep as something that requires us to get a certain quantity — and that's certainly true, adults should get seven-plus hours of sleep per night — but the timing of that sleep is really important too," she says. "People who have more regular sleep do better on cognitive tests. ... So having regular timing, it's also a really important part of sleep hygiene."

A designated sleep space: "Another layer for people who have trouble sleeping is trying to make sure that your bed is protected as a place for sleep, so that your brain associates your bed with sleep," she says, explaining the COVID pandemic has shifted the bedroom into a place where people may be working or eating from bed. 

"That can cause trouble when it comes to sleep because, for some people, not having a strong association with 'my bed equals sleep' can lead to different forms of insomnia or trouble sleeping."

In order to help protect your sleep space, she recommends avoiding all of those other activities in the area and really preserve your bed for sleep.

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