Feeling tired, anxious, sad, irritable, clumsy? When was the last time you checked in on your sleep hygiene?
Sleep is our body and mind’s way of recharging to function properly and feel good during the day. Though it may seem like an unconscious habit (pun intended!), good quality sleep should not be taken for granted.
Good sleep can decrease the risk of both health problems such as hypertension and diabetes and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Many children and adults observe a reduction in their symptoms when they adjust their sleeping schedules.
Here are some tips to improve your sleep:
- Create a regular sleep routine: consistent sleep and wake time.
- Make sure you are getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night.
ONE HOUR BEFORE BED
- Disconnect from all electronic devices (phone, TV, computer).
- Dim the lights in your room.
- Engage in a relaxing activity (hot bath, reading, coloring).
- Practice some breathing exercises.
- Consume caffeine, sugar, alcohol, or nicotine at least 6 hours before bedtime.
- Exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime.
- Eat a large/fatty meal at least 1 hour before bedtime.
- Nap during the day.
- Sleep in after a bad night’s sleep (stick to your routine!).
- If you cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, DO NOT STAY IN BED! Go to another space in the house and engage in a relaxing/calming activity until you feel sleepy. You want your bed to only be associated with sleep.
It may feel overwhelming to incorporate too many changes all at once. Take your first step by picking a couple of these suggestions and try to integrate them into your routine. You can use a sleep diary to track your progress and reward yourself for your successes!
Submitted by Mia Menassa, MSc., M.A.
Mia Menassa, MSc., M.A.
Mia Menassa is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Wheaton College. She has her master’s in child and adolescent mental health from the University of Edinburgh. She has experience working with children and families with diverse emotional, relational, and behavioral issues. She uses a collaborative and strength-based approach with her clients to improve their lifestyle and create lasting change.
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