How to Implement Sleep Hygiene
Hello! I'm Maggie Wilhelm, LPCC and Empowerment Coach. I'm here to share a few concepts that I've embraced with age that have deeply impacted my mental health.
We all know the benefits of solid sleep for our physical health, but did you know it is just as important for our mental health as well? Getting healthy sleep helps to regulate emotions, keeping us calmer & better able to face life’s issues. It also improves productivity and overall quality of life. Sleep hygiene can make all the difference in the way you sleep, and the way you feel.
Sleep hygiene simply refers to creating good sleep habits. Research has shown that forming good habits is a central part of wellness. Creating sustainable and beneficial routines makes healthy behaviors feel almost automatic, creating an ongoing process of positive reinforcement.
How can we improve our sleep habits?
1. Your Personal Habits:
- Fix a bedtime & awakening time.
- Avoid napping during the day as much as possible.
- Avoid caffeine & alcohol 4-6 hours before bed.
- Ask yourself, “Can this wait till tomorrow? What NEEDS to happen today, and what am I being rigid about?” A lot of things are not as urgent as we build them up to be.
- Exercise – is this one ever NOT on the list?
2. Your Environment:
- Use comfortable bedding & keep your bedroom well ventilated.
- Block out all distracting noise – sound machines are amazing! The Calm App has free white noise.
- Keep lighting very dim – the darker the better. Light stimulates our brain to turn on!
- Reserve bed for the three S’s: Sleep, Sex, & Sickness.
3. Your Night Time Routine:
- Avoid heavy meals before bed.
- Use relaxation techniques & don’t take your worries to bed – try the old school method of counting sheep, saying bedtime prayers, keeping a gratitude journal, or setting positive intentions for tomorrow.
- Turn off all screens AT LEAST 30 minutes before going to sleep – yep, this includes your phone. So scrolling social or catching up on your email right before bed is not going to help you catch some Z’s.
- Create a nighttime routine – Ever sleep trained a baby? We’re going for the same idea. This signals your brain that it’s time to relax and turn off for a while.
- This might look like a cup of caffeine-free tea, showering or washing your face, brushing your teeth, doing your favorite nighttime cleanse, reading a book, writing in your journal, or a nighttime cuddle in bed.
- Get into your favorite sleep position. If you aren’t asleep after 20 minutes, get up, do some light stretches, get a drink of water, or try light reading until you feel sleepy.
Give yourself time to form these new routines. The more you practice, the more your mind and body will anticipate bedtime. With each night of rest, you will likely notice changes in your mood, problem-solving ability, and productivity. Challenge yourself to make sleep a priority – the likelihood you will regret it is very slim!
Check out more of Maggie Wilhelm's articles here.
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