Help! I can’t sleep!
I am sure you have been like me at some point and found yourself staring at your alarm clock as you count the seconds, minutes, and even hours as they go by and you are still awake. You panic. You start to count the number of hours of sleep you will get if you fall asleep at this very moment. That sense of panic actually kicks out an adrenaline response which increases our blood pressure. And, then it continues. Until you fall asleep hours later, just to be awakened by the alarm. Darn….this is going to be a long day. Coffee, please.
Sleep hygiene includes the methods and practice you take to ensure you are getting good quality sleep. Some tips for good sleep hygiene include the following:
1. Try your best to go to bed and wake up around the same time to ensure your sleep cycle is similar all week.
2. White noise (my favorite). Listening to a repetitive noise helps dull our senses, lets our senses relax, and helps some of us drift off to sleep. Ever hear of running the vacuum to put a crying baby to sleep? It works! There are tons of white noise apps you can get for free too!
3. Get as much natural light as you can during the day. This may be hard for people who work nights, people who are home bound, or people like me who live in WNY and are stuck inside during some cold and cloudy winter days. You and I are in luck! Light boxes can be purchased to provide people with “natural lighting”. Light boxes are very affordable and can be purchased through Amazon. Plug it in, drink your coffee, and follow the time guidelines and soak in the “rays”.
4. Use your bed for sleep. You want your brain to think sleep when you see your bed. You do not want your brain to see paperwork, bills, laundry, and the not so romantic glow coming from your laptop. It will trigger a stress response.
5. As much as you love the company, if the company involves a paw on your face, or a toddler’s foot in your rib, you may want to see if you get better sleep alone or at least without an animal or a child.
6. Develop a relaxing ritual. Whether it’s a cup of herbal tea, a bath, or meditation, indulge yourself and relax. We are more apt to fall asleep sooner when our bodies are relaxed.
7. Avoid caffeine in the afternoons and evenings. This includes decaf coffee…even decaf coffee has some caffeine in it (I learned this the hard way).
8. If you find yourself trying to relax, but your mind is racing, research guided relaxation techniques, or podcasts. Your mind may not race if you are following directions on how to relax.
9. If you feel you are sleeping the appropriate hours and you wake up not feeling rested, make sure you discuss this with your doctor. Your physician may want to rule out a medical condition such as sleep apnea.
10. Worst case scenario-none of these methods is helpful. Don’t panic. Even thought you are not actually sleeping, your body is resting which is better than not getting any rest at all.
This guy makes it look so easy!!!