Sleep Hygiene Tips

I tend to think I’m a pretty good sleeper.

As a kid, I was always – always – the first one to fall asleep at slumber parties; in high school, I abided by a self-imposed bedtime; and even as an adult, I’ve been known to fall asleep in the middle of a party.

Like, say, at a bar.

Or, like, in a car.

Sleep happens.

But as of late I’ve had a little trouble sleeping. I toss and turn all night, have the weirdest/most stressful dreams and I wake up tired.

I see clients who have a similar issue, and because the topic was brought up over a dinner conversation last night, I thought, hey – maybe it’s time to write a post about sleep hygiene. 

Here are some tips I suggest to clients, as well as tips I do my best to follow in my personal life.

  • Set a schedule – Don’t just stay up as late as possible so your body has no other choice but to collapse on you.  For a lack of a better term, set a “bedtime” and make your best effort to stick to it, give or take 30 minutes. Our bodies like routine, so we might as well give in ;)
  • Don’t make naps a regular thing – Sometimes naps are totally necessary. Like, on Sundays when your husband is watching football. But when you nap regularly, it becomes difficult to stay awake during the day, as well as sleep through the night.
  • Nix the nighttime snacking – I tend to suggest avoiding sugars and carbs 2 – 4 hours before you go to sleep. Simple as that.
  • Turn off the TV. And the computer. And the cell phone. – Let’s be honest, our brains are over-stimulated all day long. “Unplugging” 30 – 60 minutes before bed allows our mind to calm down, resulting in less weird dreams and “thoughts that keep me up at night.”
  • Release the worry – If you’re a worrier like myself, it helps to keep a notepad bedside. Why? Rather than replaying a worry or thought, simply write it down and roll back over. Releasing worries from our mind is essential for a good night’s sleep!
  • Your bed is for two things: sleep and sex – When you make your bed your office, your dining room, and your living room, your body doesn’t recognize it as a place of rest.
  • Avoid alcohol – It’s a common misconception that alcohol aids in sleep, but it actually does just the opposite. Alcohol may make us pass out (like, in a bar, or in a car), but as it metabolizes and leaves our system, it acts as a stimulant.
  • Lastly if you can’t sleep, GET UP – Don’t lay there hoping you’ll fall asleep. Get up, get a drink of milk, or read a book for ten minutes. I like to think of it as “hitting the reset button.”

Let’s chat – Do you have any specific sleep hygiene habits? While I try to abide by all of these tips, the one I won’t compromise is my sleep schedule. If I stay up too late, get up too late, or don’t get 7 – 8 hours, I’m all out of whack!