Many of us have a hard time falling asleep, or remaining asleep from time to time. Although sleep is a natural function and cannot be forced, it is possible to become a better sleeper. Having good sleep habits make us more receptive to sleep. This is simply known as sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene problems
- Sleeping too much
- Sleeping too little
- Sleeping at the wrong times
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Looking to improve your sleep hygiene? I suggest trying one or a few of these tips:
- Go to bed only when you feel sleepy
- After lying in bed for 10-20 minutes unable to fall asleep, get out of bed, leave your bedroom and put yourself in a relaxed mood by listening to calming music, reading, or praying.
- Establish a regular routine. Sleeping in late to make up for lost sleep can throw off your ‘body clock’. Set your alarm for the same time each morning, regardless of how many hours you have slept, or what day of the week it is.
- Avoid taking naps. If you choose to nap, try to do so in the morning, not in the afternoon as this “attaches” to your nighttime sleep.
- Avoid ruminating in bed. Don’t focus on solving your problems or organizing the rest of your life as you’re attempting to sleep, simply focus on sleep. Tell yourself you will think about tomorrow, tomorrow.
- Keep a pad of paper and pen next your bed. If an important idea comes to mind, don’t rehearse it in your mind, write it down. (It’s unlikely there will be anything you can do at that time of night anyways.)
- Play tricks on your mind. Tell yourself to stay awake, and often your mind will slip away into sleep.
- Put yourself in a relaxed state of mind an hour before bed, by reading and staying away from ‘screens’.
- Establish a regular daytime exercise schedule. Regular exercise in the day can help induce sleepiness (not directly before bed).
- Avoid caffeinated beverages 5 hours before bed such as coffee, tea and pop as this can interfere with normal sleep patterns.
- Practice rational instead of self-defeating thoughts while in bed, here are some examples:
Self-defeating thoughts and suggestions to change them
- “I must fall asleep right now or I’ll be a wreck tomorrow” instead try “I may feel tired, but I can’t change the current time. I can make up for it by going to bed early tomorrow.”
- “What’s the matter with me that I can’t seem to fall asleep?” instead try “Stop blaming yourself! I can’t control sleep, just let whatever happens, happen.”
- “If I don’t get to sleep right now, I won’t be able to concentrate tomorrow on the (exam, conference, meeting etc)” instead try “My concentration may be off a bit, but I’m not going to fall apart. I might as well get up for awhile and read a book rather than lie here ruminating.”
This website may help provide you with more information and has a sleep test. www.sleepnet.com