Picture this: It’s dark outside, you’re feeling warm and comfortable tucked into your bed, and your eyes blink open. It doesn’t feel like it’s time to wake up, so you glance over at your alarm clock - it reads 2:15 AM. It isn’t late enough to start your morning, but you can’t fall back asleep. Your mind races as you think about your upcoming responsibilities, work tasks, and home duties that need to be done even though you feel like you haven’t gotten a good night of sleep in weeks.
Unfortunately, frequent nights of tossing and turning feel all too familiar in our society. Rather than addressing the source of the problem, it can feel easier to soothe a rough night of sleep with several cups of coffee or eating more sugary foods. Poor sleep quality can impact your ability to attend to daily responsibilities and increase your vulnerability to negative emotions. One way to improve sleep quality and quantity is to decrease maladaptive sleep habits and incorporate healthy sleep skills into your routine.
Sleep hygiene activities are habits people engage in to increase the quality and quality of sleep and to assist with signaling to the body and mind that it is time for bed. Here are some sleep hygiene “do’s” and “don’t’s” to help you figure out how to get a better night of rest tonight.
Turn off electronic devices.
Dim the lights in your home.
Do some light stretching or yoga.
Do some reading or journaling.
Work on a Sudoko or crossword puzzle.
Write down a list of tasks to do tomorrow.
Drink a cup of caffeine-free tea.
If you can’t sleep within 15 minutes- GET OUT OF BED! This has been the number one tip that has helped me improve my sleep. Rather than tossing and turning at night, I’ll get up out of bed, sit on the couch in my living room, and read a scientific magazine. I find the articles to be soothing and distracting.
Watch television before bed. The light and sound from the television signal to your brain that it is time to be awake.
Eat a large meal. Digestion is an active process in the body, and eating a large meal before bed can make it harder for you to fall asleep.
or watch television in bed. Doing other activities in bed can make it difficult for your brain to associate your bed with sleep. Try to use your bed for sleep and sex only.
Negative sleep patterns may be an indication of medical or mental health challenges. If your poor sleep persists for several weeks, contact your primary care physician for a physical and reach to one of our counselors. Give your body a break, and start working today to sleep better tonight.