What is sleep hygiene? Like any hygiene routine, it’s the steps we take to ensure our continued good health: brushing teeth to avoid decay; washing hands to avoid germs; clipping nails to avoid them becoming ingrown.

Sleep hygiene helps us keep our brain working at its optimal capacity, which, in turn, might help us push off or avoid the onset of cognitive decline. To that end, we’ve created a list of healthy habits that will ensure a good (or at least a better) night’s sleep.

  • Turn off all electronic devices within one hour of going to bed.

  • Charge your devices in another room, and buy a simple, old-fashioned alarm clock instead of using your phone as your alarm.

  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes.

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the hours before bedtime.

  • Exercise during the day but try not to hit the gym just before hitting the sack, unless you’re one of the lucky few who can easily fall asleep right after a vigorous workout.

  • Avoid rich foods before bedtime.

  • Make sure to get outside each day for adequate exposure to natural light.

  • Relax before bed, whether with a bath or a book or some light stretches. (Wrap up these activities at least one hour before bedtime.)

  • Create your own relaxation routine, so your body knows it’s time to wind down.

  • Avoid upsetting conversations before bed.

  • Invest in a good mattress and comfy pillows to make sure your sleep area is cozy.

  • Set the thermostat to between 60 and 67 degrees in your bedroom, for optimal sleep.