20 Jun SLEEP HYGIENE
Trouble sleeping is a common complaint. Many factors can contribute to difficulty either falling asleep or staying asleep. In most instances, it is a self-limited situational issue that will often sort itself out in a short time. Experts who study such topics suggest taking the following measures to optimize one’s chances of obtaining adequate restful, restorative sleep:
1. Get in a routine – establish a rhythm by going to bed and waking up at about the same time each day (yes, even weekends!).
2. Use your bed only for sleeping or sex – avoid television watching, reading, or paying the bills while in bed.
3. Re-boot after 20-30 minutes of lying still and not falling asleep – get up and read a tranquil text in dimmed light or listen to soothing music then return to bed when a wave of drowsiness occurs.
4. Avoid stimulants within 3-4 hours of bedtime (eg. Caffeine, nicotine, or decongestants).
5. Avoid alcohol for four hours pre-bedtime – while it can induce a relaxed state, it can actually interrupt the normal sleep cycle.
6. Limit naps – if they are necessary, try to limit duration (<30 minutes) and no later than 3 PM.
7. Nurture rituals – pre-bedtime stretching, warm baths, listening to music, quiet conversation, etc.
8. Avoid clockwatching – situate your clock where it is not easily seen; when having trouble falling asleep, the perpetual reminder of time passing can trigger panic or make sleep less likely to overtake you.
9. Regular exercise helps sleep but limit heavy exertion to more than four hours prior to bedtime.
10. Bedtime snacks – a light snack or warm milk (contains tryptophan- a natural sleep inducer) may help induce sleep.
11. Environmental tuning – a quiet, dark, cool room with a good mattress and adequate bedding will help the quality of your sleep- (use earplugs and a sleep mask if needed).
12. Seek tranquility –calm your mind; if there are difficult decisions or discussions to be held, attempt to carry them out earlier in the day and not prior to going to bed; avoid catastrophizing. Sleep will overtake you, don’t stress about it, and you can function the following day with a little missed sleep here or there.
13. Consider keeping a sleep diary if you are experiencing persistent sleep problems. Record the time you go to bed and get up, and sometimes a pattern will emerge. I will save chronic sleep disturbances for another day and another blog.