“Another restless night.”
“Counting sheep doesn’t seem to cut it anymore these days.”
“I wake up as tired as I was when I went to sleep last night.”
All of these statements are examples of things my clients report to me all too often these days. Sleep, one of the most fundamental needs of the human body, is becoming increasingly more difficult to find in today’s busy culture. Stress, constant stimulation, technological advances (yes, I mean that phone in your hand), and busy schedules make it hard for many of us to get sleep.
So, I want to offer you 5 quick and easy tips for creating healthy habits that will help you get better sleep (and better overall health as a result!)
- Stick to a schedule – Sleep, like any behavior, will be more automatic if the body is expecting it. Try to have the same bed and waking times and stick to them. This helps to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm (sleep clock) and when that rhythm is in alignment, you fall and stay asleep easier.
- Create a sleep ritual – Do something every night right before bed that helps your body and mind wind down from the day. This ritual, whatever it is, will become associated with bedtime/sleep. Examples could be, take a hot shower, read your book for half an hour, spray the pillows with lavender and practice gratitude. Whatever you do, make sure you try to do it with consistency, as the habit will become associated with sleep and signal to your mind it’s time to shut down.
- Let your bedroom be a sanctuary – if you allow your bedroom to be for sleep only, the chances of actually sleeping in the bedroom increase. Avoid working, watching television and eating in the bedroom. Make sure you have dark window coverings. Create an environment that is peaceful and not too busy. Avoid anything that would otherwise be stimulating (bright lights, sounds, busy patterns, etc..)
- Avoid screen time before bed – Studies show that the blue light from our cell phones interrupts our sleep cycle by reducing melatonin production and stimulating our nervous system, so be sure to turn that phone off at least an hour before bed.
- Eat a carbs before bed – Have you heard that old wives’ tale about warm milk helping us sleep? Well, it just might be true. I believe it is a derivative tale of the plain truth that carbohydrates deliver tryptophan to the body, which is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, both of which are critical in aiding the body to relax and sleep.
Becca Clegg, LPC, CEDS-S
Becca Clegg is a psychotherapist, speaker and author. For more information on her practice and services, visit rebeccaclegg.com.