If you struggle with insomnia, you know how frustrating and draining it can be. It can be difficult to attend to our daily responsibilities when feeling exhausted from not getting enough rest. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on both our physical and mental health. You may feel more irritable, anxious, and have more difficulty concentrating as a result of not getting enough sleep. Practicing sleep hygiene strategies can help to improve your quality of sleep. Here are some guidelines to help you set sleep routines and get some much-needed rest:
Create a pre-sleep ritual. Establishing a ritual before bed can help you to decompress and get in the sleep mindset. Maybe you take a hot bath, write down a to-do list for tomorrow, curl up with a good book, stretch, drink a cup of chamomile tea, or do a sleep meditation. Try to avoid having distressing conversations late at night. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try out some different things, as some rituals may work better for you than others.
Establish a sleep schedule. Set a sleep schedule for yourself and focus on sticking to it as best you can. Even if you didn’t get much sleep the previous night, try to wake up at the same time and proceed with your day even if you feel tired. Following a sleep schedule can help to cultivate consistency and your body will learn what to expect over time.
If you are tossing and turning, get out of bed. If you are having trouble falling asleep or getting back to sleep, resist the urge to continue lying in bed. It can be more useful to get up and occupy yourself with a calming activity until you feel sleepy. Be careful not to engage in activities that are too stimulating, as that could cause you to feel even more alert.
Refrain from clock-watching. Checking the time frequently throughout the night can create added pressure and make it even more difficult to get to sleep. You may also find it helpful to avoid looking at your phone in general, as the screen brightness can increase alertness.
Practice mindfulness. Using mindfulness techniques can be helpful in the moment when struggling to fall asleep. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths and count them as they come and go. If your mind wanders, acknowledge that you have gotten caught up in your thoughts, and gently bring yourself back to your breath. You can also notice any tension you feel in your body and focus on allowing that tension to melt away.
To learn more about sleep hygiene practices, reach out to one of our licensed counselors here.