Sleep seems like it should be a simple task but a lot of us struggle with getting to sleep, staying asleep and feeling rested in the mornings. There are many factors that can impact your sleep as well; mental illness, current medications and side effects, diet, exercise, stress level, etc. There is no one solution for everyone, each person has different needs and it is important to explore what works best for you! So, what is sleep hygiene? Sleep hygiene is defined as actions that one can implement to help promote sleep using specific behavioral interventions. There are many things you can do to promote sleep, below are 10 of my favorite tips for Sleep Hygiene:
1. Start using a sleep diary or you can use an app to track your sleep. This can help you and your counselor begin to understand what is triggering disruption in your sleep.
2. You want your room to be a place of rest and comfort. Try not to do office related work in the bedroom. The goal is for your brain and body to associate sleep and relaxation with your bedroom. Make sure the temperature is cool, the lighting is how you prefer it and that your bedding is comfortable!
3. Eliminate screen time at least 45 minutes before desired bedtime. Avoid watching action packed shows/movies before bed. Research has shown that any use of electronic devices before falling asleep continues to keep the mind active and delays REM sleep.
4. Form a routine; go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Develop your own sleep rituals such as stretching, meditation, reading, listening to instrumental/soft music. Choose your way to implement relaxation skills before getting into bed.
5. Steer clear from caffeine, alcohol or nicotine at least 4 hours before bed if possible. They can act as stimulants that keep you awake and disturb the quality of your sleep.
6. Eliminate naps during the day. If you need to nap try to limit this to less than one hour and before 3pm.
7. Try not to Toss and Turn! If you cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes, try to get out of bed and do something else. Tossing and turning causes the mind to start to wander, your body becomes agitated and it can lead to longer delays in falling asleep.
8. Don’t watch the clock! If you are having trouble falling asleep or you wake up try not to stare at the clock. Watching the clock can cause worry thoughts about; falling asleep, things you have to do the next day, questioning why you can’t go back to sleep will delay the process even further. Put a towel or turn the clock the other way so you are not tempted to keep checking it!
9. For those of us with an anxious mind; Tie up loose ends before bed! Try not to go to bed with items on the to do list that you feel are urgent.
10. End your night on a positive note! Write down a positive affirmation, something that you feel went well that day or something positive that you accomplished.
By following these tips for sleep hygiene recommendations, you will help yourself to get into a routine that promotes good sleep opportunities! Take time to explore what is most helpful for you and be kind to yourself!
Carolena Coley, LPC, RYT-200