The science of sleep has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade or so. Thank heavens, because a staggering 70% of Americans report getting insufficient sleep at least once a month, and over 10% report awful sleep nearly every night.
It's an insomnia epidemic, folks. Knowing that this problem is largely caused by the creep of modern technology, it's all the more important to practice good sleep hygiene to get the rest you need.
Creating a sleep hygiene checklist can have great benefits for your internal clock, and help make sure your sleep is on point in terms of both quality and quantity.
It's been proven that quality sleep improves your overall quality of life. It helps support your cognitive function, fights disease, and enhances your body's ability to recover from hard pursuits like weightlifting, martial arts, and climbing un-summited mountains (you know, your average weekend).
Let's take a look at the science behind sleep hygiene and why creating a sleep hygiene checklist is so powerful.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
Generally speaking, sleep hygiene is a set of nightly habits and behaviors that lead to better rest and, as a result, a higher quality of life.
Just as with your physical hygiene, minding your sleep hygiene habits ensures that you stay on top of your game. Sleep hygiene includes things like maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding excessive brain stimulation during your pre-bed routine.
It also includes your mattress firmness, room temperature, ambient or white noise that you may prefer, and managing your stress level.
Ultimately, everyone's sleep hygiene is going to look a little bit different depending on their individual physiologies and work/life balance. With this in mind, you should consider creating a customized sleep hygiene checklist.
Let's go over a quick list of things that you might consider when creating your checklist and then expound upon each item.
Habits You May Find on a Sleep Hygiene Checklist
- Room temperature
- Ambient noise/White noise
- Avoidance of Certain Food and Drink
- Shower Routine
- Sleep Supplements
- Blue Light Avoidance
- Maintain Consistent Darkness
It's no coincidence that one of the first routines you learn as a child is maintaining a consistent bedtime. News flash: it wasn't because your parents wanted to get you out of their hair at night (most of the time). Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is crucial to keeping your circadian rhythm in sync and giving you the best chance at productive daylight hours.
Sticking to a consistent bedtime should be of the utmost importance when it comes to your quality of life. Make this one number one on any sleep hygiene checklist.
According to many sleep studies, the optimal temperature in which to sleep for human beings is 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Physiologically speaking, humans seem to sleep best in the low-to-mid sixties, though there is some variance. You'll definitely want to experiment.
If that seems too cold for you, or if your partner can't handle the room that cold, you can find ways to compromise. There aren't any laws against adding an extra blanket, and the body is quite good at regulating its own temperature when the external environment isn't too hot.
Ambient Noise/White Noise
A trusted method for getting babies and toddlers to nod off, white noise machines are becoming wildly popular with adults, as well. Most conventional wisdom suggests that you keep your bedroom as silent as possible. However, new studies — and our own experience — suggest that using your preferred sound and volume of white noise can help even the oldest of babies sink into a powerful, restorative sleep.
White noise played at a reasonable volume can help your brain focus on something other than stressful thoughts and needless worries. Be gone, Sunday Scaries! It's also a magnificent way of drowning out external stimuli like leaky faucets or street racers zooming past your window at night.
Avoid Certain Foods and Drinks
Along with nicotine, alcohol and caffeine can have a profoundly negative effect on your quality of sleep.
Obviously, caffeine patently prevents you from sleeping, while alcohol dehydrates the body and inhibits deep sleep phases. While overconsumption of alcohol will make you pass out, you're getting some seriously garbage-level sleep.
Spicy foods can irritate your digestive system, as can any other hard-to-digest food such as dairy products. Ultimately, it's wise to consider a cutoff time for all food and drink other than water or the occasional bland midnight snack. Anything else and you're doing your sleep hygiene (and your waistline) a great disservice.
We recommend avoiding all food and drinks for the 2 hours preceding the time when you want to be "lights out" asleep.
Similar to maintaining a consistent room temperature in your bedroom, maintaining a consistent shower routine is important to help regulate body temperature. If you are a night-time shower fan (we hope you are), this is especially important. A warm (not hot) shower can help gently lower our body temperature to an optimal level, which in turn lends itself to faster, more restful sleep.
Healthy sleep supplements like Hibernate use drug-free blends of melatonin (always microdosed), minerals, electrolytes, and antioxidants to help ease the body and the brain's neurotransmitters into a natural, more gradual, and restful sleep.
A healthy supplement — like Hibernate — will also help boost muscle recovery, and even improve your sex life. After all, poor sleep leads to lower testosterone, abnormal sperm, and (gasp) smaller testicles.
One more time for those of you who just did a double-take. Poor sleep can give you tiny family jewels and scraggly, weird-shaped sperm.
Now, before you go and immediately pound a bunch of sleeping pills, remember that we're talking about your sleep hygiene checklist. We don't want drugs or anything that interferes with healthy, natural sleep processes. So, take it easy on the knockout sleep aids and add a safer supplement to your sleep hygiene routine. Your partner will thank you for it.
You might have heard of this little institution called Harvard Medical School. Ring a bell? Well, the folks at Harvard have found that practicing mindfulness meditation can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.
Do you know two of the biggest sleep thieves? You guessed it — stress and anxiety.
For those of you who haven't dipped a toe into the world of meditation yet, you might imagine someone sitting cross-legged chanting "ommmm" with their forefingers and thumbs touching.
While that's not necessarily incorrect, that's also pretty atypical (and maybe a little insensitive). Rather, modern meditation methods (say that three times fast) focus on breathing and relaxation. Gaining mindfulness through physical self-awareness, for as little as one minute at night, can have profound effects on your "sleep onset" — the amount of time it actually takes you to fall asleep.
If you really want a pro tip, try meditating with white noise and knock out two things on your sleep hygiene checklist.
Avoid Blue Light
Ah, the dreaded blue light! There are several ways to avoid the demonized blue light that emanates from our smartphones, wrecking our internal clocks and sending our brains on a gauntlet of nocturnal notifications and never-ending doom scrolls.
Blue-light blocking glasses are our preferred method. Or, you can do the obvious: put the phone down, bro. You can watch NFL highlights on YouTube tomorrow.
If you absolutely have your phone at your bedside for an alarm clock, keep it on airplane mode and set the alarm early — at least 2 hours before you aim to be asleep.
Maintain Consistent Darkness
Finally, you need to make sure to keep your bedroom as close to a "cave" as possible. Our brains still have a physiological "off" switch left over from the early days of the species. That switch gets flipped much easier if you maintain consistent darkness in your cave.
Use blackout curtains. Put tape over any tiny lights in your room. Or, remove them entirely.
This goes hand-in-hand with avoiding blue light, as well. The cavemen didn't have Amazon Prime sending them emails about discounts on bumper plates at 3am. You shouldn't either.
Create a Checklist That Works Best for You
The items listed above are only tips. You're a big boy, and you can make your own decisions. Hibernate just wants to help you along the way by promoting healthy sleep. Healthy sleep makes for stronger men, and stronger men make for a better world.
You may not need a physical checklist after a few weeks of practice. That being said, if you're a control freak (here's looking at you triathletes and 5/3/1ers) and you absolutely have to chart your progress, go to town, tiger. Just don't do it on your phone's Notes app before you lie down in bed.
Creating that sleep hygiene checklist is the beginning of the domino effect toward a healthier lifestyle. If you start to catch yourself skipping a dose of Hibernate or sneaking an extra couple hours of ESPN at night, remember this: better sleep means a better quality of life.
Once your checklist is ready, contact us to start your subscription towards quality sleep today.