How’s Your Sleep Hygiene?

Have you been tossing and turning all night?

Do you ever find yourself in bed scrolling through the infinite land of Twitter or Instagram and before you know it an hour has passed by? After that first hour passes, you probably find yourself worrying about what time you will fall asleep… which is then perpetuated by the anxiety about being awake that you can’t fall asleep. If this unhelpful cycle of events has consumed a big chunk of your sleeping hour, then sleep hygiene might be helpful for you to consider.

What is sleep hygiene & why is it important?

According to the Center for Disease Control, things like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg disorder can impact a person’s quality of sleep, which then effects one’s concentration, energy levels and even mental health. They suggest that sleep hygiene, which they define  as “a series of steps to set up proper sleep habits”, can help improve a person’s overall sleep health.

But why is your sleep health important? Research shows that not getting enough sleep can lead to negative physical side effects such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • weakened immune system
  • risk for high blood pressure or heart disease
  • low sex drive

These effects do not include the emotional and cognitive toll that can also occur as a result of poor or not enough sleep.

What can you do about it?

Taking some simple steps to improve your bed-time habits can lead to hugely beneficial impact on one’s ability to sleep:

  • Try to avoid naps (once we reach our threshold for sleep for the day we won’t be able to sleep at night)
  • Develop (and stick to!) an evening routine to prepare for bed – that will help your body understand that it’s time to wind down for the day and get ready for sleep
  • Don’t watch tv or use your cellphone in bed (the blue light and overall stimulus from these screens prohibits the creation of Melatonin and promotes us to stay awake)
  • Create a peaceful and comfortable space for sleeping
  • If you find yourself checking the time repeatedly, hide the clock (or put your phone face down, or across the room)

The use of exercise, breathing techniques and practicing meditation or mindfulness can also be greatly helpful in relaxing our minds and letting go of worries and fears as we prepare for sleep.

Is anxiety or depression affecting your sleep health? If you’re having trouble sleeping due to excessive worry or an overactive mind, schedule a time to come in and talk with one of our therapists. We’d love to meet you.

Written by: Meara Smith, LMFT Therapist at Lincoln Park Therapy Group

 

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