The very first Daily Shoring tip you received encouraged you to Clean Up Your Sleep Hygiene! I want to revisit sleep hygiene today because getting a good night’s rest is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Here are the basics; review, and choose an area (or 2!) that you can improve upon.
Get up at the same time each morning.
- I know this is really difficult, and may not work with many lifestyles, but it is important. If you’re serious about addressing insomnia, prioritize getting up at the same time each morning, even if you’ve rested poorly or gone to bed late.
- If you are exhausted later in the day, take a short nap (20 – 40 minutes).
Go to bed at the same time each evening.
- If you can’t do this every night, still try to get up at the same time each day to keep your circadian rhythm on track. Work in a short nap if you’re exhausted later in the day.
- Avoid being in bed for activities other than sleeping. This includes reading; your body should associate being in bed with falling asleep.
- If you are unable to fall asleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing, such as reading or having a small snack of a banana or cereal (does anyone still drink warm milk?). It’s important to get out of bed because you don’t want to learn to associate your bed with tossing and turning.
- Establish a bedtime ritual to signal your mind & body that it’s time to shut down. For example, check that doors are locked and lights are off, attend to hygiene, then sit in a comfortable chair and read for thirty minutes (flipping through magazines counts!).
Prepare an appropriate sleep environment.
- Utilize a white noise machine if necessary.
- Make certain the room is a comfortable temperature. Most people sleep better in a cooler environment–make sure the room doesn’t get too warm in the middle of the night!
- Block out as much light as possible–this includes brightly lit clocks. Avoid the temptation to look at your phone if you wake up during the night.
- Do not watch television, play video games, work on the computer, smart phone, or read on your iPad for 30 minutes prior to going to bed; the flashes of light disrupt your body’s sleep/wake cycle.
Other suggestions for insomnia:
- A warm bath an hour before bedtime can help reset your body temperature and help you fall asleep as well as sleep through the night. (Exercise 3-5 hours before bedtime is even more effective!)
- Avoid physical exercise for approximately 2 hours prior to bedtime (but exercise earlier in the day is great for sleep, especially 3-5 hours before bedtime).
- Avoid alcohol for approximately 2-3 hours prior to bedtime.
- Avoid stimulants (including coffee, tea, and soft drinks) for 4-6 hours before bedtime.
If you have trouble shutting down your mind at night, try:
- A “Filler Task”
- Listen to a mindful meditation that will help with sleep.
- Use audible.com to download books to listen to while you fall asleep–it’s like having a bedtime story read to you! It’s not free–you have to pay for each book you download–but it may be worth it to lull yourself to sleep. You can download the audible app onto your smartphone and set the sleep timer so it shuts off automatically after 30 minutes, or whatever you choose.