By Bonnie Whitis, Targeted Case Manager
Going to bed only to toss and turn for what seems like forever before there is even an option to fall asleep. Not sleeping soundly and waking easily. Falling asleep only to sleep for a few hours and not able to go back to sleep. Sleeping all night but never getting a good, deep sleep...
Does this sound familiar? I have experienced all of these at one time or another. Physical and mental health symptoms can cause or increase these disturbances to our sleep. But there are healthy habits we can form to help reduce sleep interference.
Every person is different, but it takes on average of 2 months to form a habit. Equally it takes about the same to break one. We can change habits, breaking old ones, and creating new ones, to help us get better rest.
TIP #1: Create a bedtime and wake time routine and stick to it. Make this time doable and stick to this schedule within a 30 minute time-frame daily. This is hard for many and there will always be some exceptions but scheduling your sleep is good self-care and should be a priority. We can be flexible about lots of things, but sleep should not be one of them. Mentally and physically we need sleep. We can’t function optimally without it.
TIP #2: Set a reminder such as an alarm clock on your phone. Don’t hit snooze when it is time to get up! Every person is different, but 8 hours is recommended. You may have to use trial and error until you find the right amount for you, but you will
know when you do; maybe it is 6 or 7 hours. When you wake up feeling rested you will know that is the right amount for you. If you wake feeling sluggish it was either too much or too little so re-adjust accordingly.
TIP #3: Be more active and you will be more ready for sleep. Our bodies crave physical activity. Not getting enough makes us more restless. Try to exercise everyday for at least 10 mins. Walk the dog, ride a bike, or work in the flower bed. It doesn’t have to be at a gym. You could put on some music and dance around the living room. Just move! It’s free!
TIP #4: Don’t eat anything 2 hours before bed and if you drink anything make sure it’s just water. There is nothing worse than sleeping good only to wake up because you must go to the bathroom. Caffeine is a stimulant, so we don’t want to consume it in the late afternoon or evenings. Slowing down to sleep includes our internal organs and processes. We can’t rest well if our digestive system is working overtime to digest something we ate too close to bedtime. So, eat early enough so you’re not going to bed full.
TIP #5 Don’t read, watch or listen to anything too stimulating close to bedtime. This may be different from one person to the next. Try to stick to something that is relaxing for you, so you can unwind. It may be reading a book or watching something boring on TV! Maybe listening to some soft music. You want to get comfortable physically and mentally. Don’t make or think about a to do list. And stay away from
video games late in the day.
TIP #6 Finally, pamper yourself before bed! Maybe take a hot bath or shower. Some people find stretching or yoga to help improve sleep. Try a homemade face mask or moisturizer. You deserve to be spoiled and it doesn’t have to cost a dime!