Tips For Improving Your Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is one of the most essential keys to maintaining our overall wellbeing and health and without it we can experience other problems.  Getting enough sleep helps us restore our physical, emotional, and mental states which is fundamental to our ability to function every day.  There are some practices and habits we can establish and engage in on a daily basis that can help promote good quality sleep.   Here are some recommendations we can follow:

•    Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle 7 days a week.  This means establishing a schedule in     which you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
•    Avoid napping during the day.
•    Avoid consumption of stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine too close to bedtime.
•    Engage in regular exercise or physical activity in the morning or late afternoon and avoid doing so too close to bedtime. 
•    Avoid eating large meals or drinking a lot of liquids too close to bedtime.
•    Obtain exposure to natural light throughout the day.
•    Clear your mind before bed.  This means to avoid engaging in upsetting conversations or thoughts.  Breathing exercises or taking a hot bath or shower can be helpful tools to get you into a relaxed state.
•    Keep electronics out of your bed (no cell phone, computer, or T.V.) This helps you to associate your bed with sleep.
•    Create a comfortable and relaxing environment in your bedroom, which includes temperature, decorations, lighting, and sound.
•    Avoid watching the clock if you cannot sleep. Instead, get up and do something that may tire you.

Depending on our needs, schedule, and stress level among other factors, our sleep-wake schedule will vary from person to person however it is important for us to find out what strategies, habits, and practices work best for us. The key is consistency and sticking with your healthy hygiene practices even if you experience a night or two of poor sleep.  There are many benefits to maintaining healthy sleep hygiene as well as many consequences to not doing so.  Try out some of the above tips and don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help if you are struggling with any ongoing sleep issues. 

~ Cory Stege, M.S., LMFT