Improving your sleep quality

Guidelines suggest that adults need approximately 8 hours of sleep everyday. But many struggle to attain the quality of sleep they desire. Here are some (not so secret) suggestions to help you improve the quality of your sleep.

Get comfortable

Sleep hygiene experts suggest that making small changes to your sleep space could make a big difference.

Temperature regulation: if you had to choose between being too hot or too cold, rather choose a cooler temperature for your bedroom

Bedding: make sure your mattress and pillow is comfortable.

Lighting: consider using block out curtains to make your bedroom darker. Avoid electronic devices (unless you have “night mode”) as it tricks the brain into believing it is sunrise, i.e. wake-up time!

Bedtime routine

Babies often thrive on routine, why not adults? Routine is exceptionally helpful because it conditions your body and mind to respond in a specific way. Your bedtime routine should consist of activities that help you to unwind, not stimulate you to be awake!

  • A bath with dim lighting (as opposed to vigorous exercise)
  • Reading a (boring) book (as opposed to watching stimulating TV)
  • Drinking warm milk (as opposed to caffeinated drinks)
  • Write in a journal (as opposed to worrying about life)

Create a rhythm

Sleep is more satisfying when it fits into your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). Refrain from excessive napping. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t make up for lost sleep. A 20 – 30 minute power nap can be sufficiently refreshing. Being exposed to sufficient sunlight and participating in exercise both help to stimulate the  sleep-wake hormones thus contributing to establishing a successful circadian rhythm.

Fix your thoughts

The more you stress about the fact that you can’t sleep, the less likely you are to fall asleep.

  • Keep a pen and paper next to your bed and write down any worrying thoughts. Once you’ve written it down, you can worry about it again tomorrow.
  • Only use your bed for sleep and sex. You don’t want to associate your sleep sanctuary with work, problem solving, worry, or fighting.
  • If you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes, get up and do something else. When you are feeling sleepy, try again.

When in doubt, consider your ABC’s!

A: I can’t sleep

B: I must sleep or else I will surely die

C: Anxiety, anger, frustration, more awake, less sleepy.

D: How is it helping you to constantly tell yourself you MUST sleep? Is it helping you to fall asleep or making the problem worse? How is it logical that because you WANT to sleep, you therefore automatically WILL, MUST or SHOULD?

E: How would a new thought be more helpful? E.g. I would prefer to sleep but I don’t have to. If I don’t sleep, tomorrow will be difficult, but not impossible to deal with.

If you need help figuring out what is keeping you awake, do contact me for a session!