By Sheila White, MFTC
Personally, I think sleep “hygiene” sounds like you need dental floss or something. Hygiene? Who came up with that?
Suggestions for helping your body and mind relax when you are getting ready for bed.
I tell people that late at night my “inner teenager” rebels and says,
“I’m going to go to sleep when I want!” Of course, that doesn’t help me at all when I’m feeling groggy the next day.
And yes, that is called self-defeating behavior.
And yes, I will be graduating this year with my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. And, I am a registered nurse. (!)
(This also has to do with my sympathetic nervous system. But, I won’t get into that)
This is just a demonstration of the well-known fact that knowledge alone does not change behavior.
And, human beings are imperfect.
So, I’ll pay attention to this information too.
Here are 8 suggestions to help you get good sleep:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Go to sleep and wake up at about the same times every day even on the weekends. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine — and do your best to stick with it
Create a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you unwind so you’re ready to sleep. Start about 30-60 minutes before bed. Consider reading, meditation, taking a hot bath, drinking hot tea (decaffeinated), and/or gentle stretching.
- Turn off electronic devices before you go to sleep
Electronic devices like your phone and laptop emit blue light which can reduce the melatonin levels in your body.
- Exercise regularly
Doing an aerobic activity for just 30 minutes a day can improve your quality of sleep.
- Limit your caffeine intake
Your morning cup of coffee can keep you alert from 3 – 7 hours after you drink it. Everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine. Also, your tolerance can change over time.
- Make your sleep environment work for you
Most people sleep best in a cool, dark, quiet room. If your neighbors are too noisy, use earplugs. If too much light comes into your room in the morning, get blackout curtains.
- Limit napping — or avoid it if you can
If you nap during the day you may have trouble falling asleep at night. If you do nap, try to keep your nap to 30 minutes or less, and don’t nap late in the afternoon.
- Try to manage your stress before going to bed
As we all know, worrying about things can keep you awake. Some suggestions for managing stress are: writing down your worries before going to bed to help get them out of your head, some people like to use a weighted blanket. Make a to-do list, pick your priorities, and then try to relax. Meditation can also be helpful to calm your mind.
If you still have issues with your sleep patterns or with insomnia, contact your primary physician. They can rule out an underlying condition that may be causing sleep problems.