How to Get Better Sleep
Everyone has a hard time sleeping from time to time. Schedule changes, stress, illness, and even excitement can all get in the way of a good night's sleep. Sometimes, it just takes a day or two to get back into a regular sleeping cycle, and other times, sleeping problems will linger. If you're having trouble getting to sleep even when you're tired, waking frequently at night, or waking up feeling like you didn't rest at all, a few simple changes to your sleeping routine and environment can help you get better sleep.
Healthy Sleep Habits (aka Sleep Hygiene):
Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule.
Make sure you see the sun every day.
Reduce screen time, overstimulation, and exposure to blue lights before bed.
Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet.
Don't work in bed.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and strenuous exercise before bed.
Tips for Sleeping & Waking Up
CBTi (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) Tips
1. Learn Your Sleeping Patterns
Keep a sleep diary to help track sleeping habits and patterns. Include information like lights out and waking times, how long it takes to fall asleep, perceived sleep quality, interruptions in sleep, and any daytime factors that may influence sleep, like exercise, daytime napes, or stress level.
Sleep Diary tips from the National Sleep Foundation
2. Investigate Your Sleep & Insomnia Beliefs
Worrying about whether you'll get to sleep only creates a vicious cycle of more worry and less sleep. If you find yourself checking the clock, tossing and turning, or worrying about how tired you'll be in the morning, get out of bed, leave the bedroom if you can, and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Try to keep the lights dim when you do this. It can help to move the clock so you can't check the time and talk yourself through your worries with a calm, encouraging response. For example, remind yourself that lots of people struggle with sleep sometimes and that you can improve your sleep with practice. When you come back to bed, make staying relaxed your goal rather than trying to sleep. Practice deep breathing or visualize a relaxing scene.
3. Improve Your Sleep Efficiency
Sleep efficiency is the ratio of total time asleep to total time in bed. Sleep efficiency of 85% or higher is considered normal, with sleep efficiency over 95% indicating that you may not be spending enough time in bed to meet your sleep needs. With improved sleep efficiency comes deeper, higher quality sleep and more energy during your waking hours.
4. Practice Stimulus Control
Stimulus control for sleep refers to limiting activities in bed to sleep and sex. The goal is to strengthen your brain's association between the bed and sleeping and break the link between the bed and not sleeping. This means only going to bed when you feel sleepy and making your computer, phone, and tablet off-limits in bed. If you can't sleep, get out of bed, do something relaxing, and return when you feel sleepy.
- Treating Insomnia with Stimulus Control
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia Part 2: Stimulus Control
- Sleep Restriction and Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
5. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Help support your body's internal clock by going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time (+/- 20 minutes), even on holidays and weekends. Make sure to get up at your scheduled wake-up time even if you're tired and avoid naps. If you need to take a nap, keep it under 30 minutes and before 3 p.m. Keep in mind that you need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night when you set your sleep schedule.
6. Create a Sleep Sanctuary
This is the ideal setting for your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. Experiment with covering any light from electronics, hanging curtains, using an eye mask, or using a fan or white noise machine to help achieve the ideal sleeping environment. You can also test out different kinds of pillows or levels of mattress support to help your body feel comfortable enough to fall and stay asleep.
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