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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Hyde

Say Goodbye to Sleepless Nights: Essential Sleep Hygiene Tips for Deeper Sleep

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Staying asleep? Are you feeling tired even after 8 hours of sleep? You are not alone. About 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, and 33% of adults do not get the recommended amount of sleep they need for their mental and physical well-being.

What is enough sleep? Adults are recommended to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Children and teens need even more sleep. When we sleep less than what our body needs or have poor quality sleep, it can lead to “sleep insufficiency.”

Sleep Hygiene Tips

When we experience sleep insufficiency, our body and mind are directly impacted. We may have slower reaction times, find it hard to focus on work or school, feel irritable or depressed, and have less motivation to socialize. We may also try to compensate for lack of sleep by napping during the day or sleeping in on the weekends. This can lead to changes in our circadian rhythm and make it even harder to sleep during the week.

How do we get more sleep? Prioritizing sleep and having good sleep hygiene are simple ways to improve our sleep.

  • Be consistent with your schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends). This helps regulate our circadian system.

  • Create an enjoyable bedtime routine. We need time to wind down before bed so that our minds can transition easily to sleep. Do things that help promote sleepiness such as: taking a warm shower or bath, listening to calming music, drinking decaffeinated tea, changing into comfortable pajamas, or reading a book.

  •  Avoid using blue-light electronics before bed. Blue light suppresses the release of melatonin, which is our natural sleep hormone. Listening to a podcast, a familiar TV show, or a guided meditation can be relaxing and help us sleep, but make sure you are not looking at a screen at least 30 minutes before bed.

  • Try not to nap. Napping can reduce the amount of sleep drive or the need for sleep at the end of the day. Sometimes our bodies must nap to maintain wakefulness. If you do need to nap, ensure that it is 30 minutes or less. This will help prevent insomnia at night.

  • Stay active. Engaging in 20 minutes of exercise can have many health benefits – one of them being better sleep. When we stay active during the day, we increase the amount of sleep drive we have before bed. This can help us fall asleep faster and sleep longer. 

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the evening. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. This means they are increasing our alertness, which prevents us from getting to sleep. Alcohol use before bed may seem like a good idea to help promote sleep, but it actually increases the amount of time we wake up during the night – preventing us from getting the amount of sleep we need.

  • Avoid late-night dinners. Eating a heavy meal before bed can cause an upset stomach, acid reflux, or general discomfort. It can also cause us to wake up and need to use the restroom more in the middle of the night. Try a light snack with protein instead.

  • Get out of bed. We want to promote the connection between our bed and sleeping. If you tend to do work, answer emails, or stress about finances in bed - you could be reducing the association between your bed and sleep. If you toss and turn at night, try getting out of bed for 20 minutes and do a calming activity, such as reading, stretching, or meditating. Then return to your bed to try to sleep again.

  • Optimize your bedroom. Choose a comfortable mattress, bedding, and pillow that helps keep you cool and comfortable through the night. Our bodies sleep best in a cooler environment - consider setting your thermostat to 65 - 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Use blackout curtains and earplugs to help dampen outside light and noise. 

If you have prioritized your sleep and implemented good sleep hygiene behaviors, but you are still experiencing sleep problems, it may be time to seek specialized care. A provider who specializes in sleep therapy can offer a thorough assessment and treatment plan to tackle your unique needs. Set up your appointment today at Fairfax Mental Health & Wellness.


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