The average American’s daily life consist of trying to fit as many things into 24 hours as we possibly can. With the fast paced lifestyle that we have all become accustomed to, finding time for adequate rest can be challenging. The importance of getting a good night’s sleep is vast and consequences of not achieving this can linger into the following days which can bring on issues such as anxiety. Sleep hygiene is a term coined to describe different practices and habits individuals can make part of their nightly routine to ensure a more wholesome night’s sleep. The following are sleep hygiene tips:
- Avoid naps if possible throughout the day. Naps can decrease the amount of sleep that one gets throughout the night. If taking a nap is necessary that day, make sure it is not after 3 pm and it is kept to a minimum.
- Keep your bedtime routine the same throughout the week. Weekends might seem difficult to continue doing this, however, the more regular the bedtime and wake-up time is the easier it will be to get to sleep and wake up on time.
- Do not force sleep. Sleep when you are sleepy. If you lay in bed for more than 15 minutes and you have not fallen asleep, get up and do something that you consider boring or relaxing until you start to feel tired and then get back in bed and try again. Continuing to stay in bed when you are not able to fall asleep will only cause anxiety and prolong the process. Clock-watching is another habit that can cause anxiety and delay falling asleep.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol 4-6 before going to bed. These substances can all interfere with the body’s regular sleep cycle, making it more difficult to keep your sleep routine regular.
- Create a list of bedtime rituals. This list should consist of calming things that can be done every night before bed. Some people take a bath every night or do some relaxing stretches. Others will drink warm decaffeinated tea or milk and read a book. Doing the same thing every night will prepare your brain and body to know that bedtime is approaching. Create a list of your own bedtime rituals.
- Only use your bed for sleeping. Using your bed for work or homework can cause harm to the sleep cycle. If the bed is only used for sleep, your body will start to associate getting into bed with being sleepy.
- Eating right can have an effect on sleep as well. Making sure you are not going to bed with an empty stomach or a stomach that feels too full can make falling asleep easier, as well as staying asleep.
- Keep your daily routine the same. Even if you did not get a good night of sleep, do not avoid activities you already had planned because you are tired. This can start a cycle of not sleeping well.
Author: Bianca Marcu, LPC, Clarity Clinic