Good Sleep Hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is a term in therapy we use to describe good sleep habits.
I wanted to take the time to write this since I have been hearing a theme about how people’s sleep cycle has been impacted by the pandemic. Some of us are sleeping more and some of us have been struggling to get to sleep or once we get to sleep we struggle with staying asleep. So, what constitutes good sleep hygiene?
- Do you have a routine? Establishing bed time routine, just like a child would have one is helpful. It allows our minds to process we are getting ready to shut down. Try to lay down to sleep at the same time each night. Do not eat large amounts of food three hours before bed, as the digestive process interrupts your sleep cycle.
- Feeling anxious? Worrying about money or what is going on in the world right now is not going to help your mind shut down. These thoughts can interrupt your sleep pattern if you are thinking about them all of the time. I am encouraging my patients to limit the amount of news they are ingesting each day to one time. Do we really need more frequent updates than that? Journal-practice writing down your thoughts that are bothersome to you before you go to bed. I call this a “brain dump”. It helps get the “junk out of our trunk”. So instead of letting our unconscious play with our worries, we have freed it to paper and our right brain can shut down easier. Journaling also helps with nightmares.
- Stay Active: Do not sleep away your day by taking frequent naps throughout the day…which means no naps during the day if you are struggling to sleep at night. Try to stay out of your bed unless it is time for bed. The more active you are out of your bed, the less likely you be able to sleep when you want to.
- Exercise: Regular exercise, even walking or doing home workouts is recommended to help you fall asleep, but not recommended approximately three hours before your bedtime. https://thesleepdoctor.com/2017/05/22/benefits-exercise-sleep/
- Medication: There are natural and man made medications that can help aid sleep but these usually are short term fixes.
- No clock-watching. Many people who struggle with sleep tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn on the light to read the time) and reinforces negative thoughts such as “Oh no, look how late it is, I am never going to get any sleep tonight; I am going to be so tired tomorrow.”
- Take a bath before bed. Take a hot bath before bed can help us relax our minds and bodies. I like to add Epsom salt to relax my muscles mixed with a fragrance I enjoy relaxing too. It really does relax my mind and muscles which makes it easier to fall asleep. Raising your body temperature a little causes you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/having-trouble-sleeping-try-a-hot-bath-before-bed
I hope some of these tips are helpful. If you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org