Right now, we are all doing our best to up our hand washing and personal hygiene game.  If you find that you are having some trouble in the sleep department these days, it’s a good idea to check out your sleep hygiene as well. Below are some ways that you can practice good sleep hygiene to start getting a better night’s sleep. 

Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for both physical and mental health and yet many people just don’t get a good, quality sleep at night.  If that sounds like you, here are a few tips to help improve your bedtime routine to catch those ever important zzzzzzzzzz’s. 

Let’s start with the things to NOT do:

  • Don’t go to bed if you aren’t sleepy – “tired but wired” is a recipe for keeping you up and your mind racing.  Instead, find ways to wind down prior to getting into bed.
  • Don’t stay in bed if you feel restless and can’t sleep. If you are unable to fall asleep or wake up and can’t fall back to sleep, it’s best to get out of bed.  By staying in bed, you are creating an unhealthy association in your brain and the bed becomes a cue for restlessness versus sleep.  Instead, go to a quiet dimly lit room and do something calming and NOT on a screen. Great examples are reading a book, working on a puzzle, meditating or journaling until you start to feel sleepy again.

Here are some ways to support better sleep hygiene:

  • Have a set routine before getting into bed – we are easily conditioned, so try starting a new routine before bed. By creating common steps to do every night before bed you can start to trigger the brain and body to wind down and feel tired. Some typical actions include: brushing your teeth, washing your face, putting on pajamas, reading a book (non-screen), light stretching, meditation, or drink a hot non-caffeinated beverage.
  • Have a consistent wake up time. Studies show that, in general, a consistent bedtime is less important for falling asleep as is a consistent waking time.  So set the alarm and actually get up when it goes off.  This will reset and regulate your circadian rhythm and you will start to get tired around the same time each night.
  • Try not to stress about sleep.  Worrying about sleep actually fuels insomnia.  Remind yourself that sometimes you don’t sleep well, and things are still ok.

If you find that you are struggling with sleep consistently, talk to a professional.

Kari Gregory is a Licensed Professional Counselor certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  She specializes in the treatment of Anxiety, OCD and related disorders. You can learn more about Kari here.