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General Practice 2023

Sleep hygiene: what é, how to do it and how many hours to sleep

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Sleep hygiene: what é, how to do it and how many hours to sleep
Sleep hygiene: what é, how to do it and how many hours to sleep

Sleep hygiene consists of adopting a set of good behaviors, routines and environmental conditions that allow for a better quality and duration of sleep.

Practice good sleep hygiene is very important at all ages, to organize sleep schedule and rituals and avoid sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, night terrors, nightmares, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, restless legs syndrome or insomnia, for example.

In the case of sleep disorders, it is recommended that the doctor be consulted so that a medical evaluation is carried out, any possible disease is ruled out, such as sleep apnea, for example, and the most appropriate treatment is initiated. In some cases, the intervention of a psychologist or a psychiatrist may be necessary so that medications are indicated to help the person sleep better.


How to do good sleep hygiene

To perform good sleep hygiene, it is important to adopt the following measures:

  • Stipulating a fixed time, to go to bed and wake up, even during the weekend;
  • If the person takes a nap, it should not exceed 45 minutes, nor should it be closer to the end of the day;
  • Avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, at least 4 hours before bedtime;
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated foods and beverages at least 6 hours before bedtime, such as coffee, teas, chocolate or soft drinks such as guarana and cola;
  • Practice regular physical exercise, but avoid doing it close to bedtime;
  • Have light meals at dinner, avoiding heavy foods, sugar and spicy foods;
  • Leave the room at a comfortable temperature;
  • Promote a quiet, low-light environment;
  • Keep away devices such as cell phones, tv or digital watches, for example;
  • Avoid using the bed for work or watching TV;
  • Avoid staying in bed during the day;
  • Wear appropriate and comfortable clothing for sleeping.

See other strategies that help improve sleep quality.


Sleep hygiene in children

In the case of children who have difficulty sleeping or who wake up many times during the night, all the behaviors and routines they perform throughout the day and at bedtime, such as meals, naps or the fear of the dark, for example, in order to provide calmer nights.

According to the recommendations of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics, parents and educators should:

  • Eat dinner early, avoiding heavy foods, offering a light snack before the children go to sleep;
  • Let the child take naps, but avoid them during the late afternoon;
  • Establish fixed sleeping times, including weekends;
  • At bedtime, place the child still awake in bed, explaining that it is time to sleep and providing a calm and peaceful environment to induce sleep and make the child feel safer;
  • Create a bedtime routine that includes reading stories or listening to music;
  • Prevent the child from falling asleep with the bottle or watching TV;
  • Avoid taking children to their parents' bed;
  • Put a night light in the child's room, in case the child is afraid of the dark;
  • Stay in the child's room, in case he wakes up with fear and nightmares during the night, until he calms down, letting you know that he will return to his room after falling asleep.

Learn how to relax your baby so he can sleep soundly through the night.

Importance of sleep hygiene

Sleep is a physiological process of the human being that serves to recover the wear and tear of daily activities and, therefore, adopting measures to have a good rest and a better quality of sleep can bring benefits such as better performance at work and at school and improves social relationships.

Sleep, together with a he althy diet and regular physical activity, prevents the development of cardiovascular and mental diseases, in addition to ensuring adequate body weight and intellectual capacity.

How many hours should you sleep

The number of hours a person should sleep varies over time according to age, and it is recommended to sleep the number of hours according to the following table:

Age Number of hours
0 - 3 months 14 - 17
4 - 11 months 12 - 15
1 - 2 years 11- 14
3 - 5 years 10 - 13
6 - 13 years old 9 - 11
14 - 17 years old 8 - 10
18 - 25 years old 7 - 9
26 - 64 years old 7 - 9
+ 65 years 7- 8

Due to the existence of technologies such as television, telephones, video games and computers, in addition to the pace of working life, hours of sleep have changed over the last few decades, which may have resulted in the development of some metabolic, endocrine and immunological alterations, such as glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

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