Waking up refreshed in the morning, after a good night’s rest, is a restorative and essential aspect of our lives. Yet, many people have a difficult time getting the proper amount and the adequate quality of sleep. Estimates on the right amount of sleep tend to be somewhere between 7 and 9 hours (depending on the research study). Going about it is pretty straight forward – calculate the time of getting to bed to the time of waking the next morning, and you can allow yourself the right number that your body needs. However, getting the proper quality of sleep can be a bit trickier than it seems. Many of the conveniences we depend on and use in our lives can be the very distractions that stand in the way of the sorely needed rest. Work hours that extend much beyond the typical 9 to 5 schedule, TVs or electronic devices in the bedroom we use for entertainment, and the smart phones we check before dozing off all create significant barriers to the deep sleep we crave.
While each of the examples above carry a justification on their own, they all chip away at the peace required before putting an end to the day. Working on a project right up until bedtime, or checking that work e-mail right before bed, causes a physiological reaction that sort of jolts us into requiring alertness and energy to complete task. Even something as simple as reading an e-mail from work can switch us into the less relaxing mode, thus making good sleep that much harder to obtain. Not to mention that the light from the screens we use has its own negative way of keeping us awake. Introducing light when we actually need darkness and calm to sleep, is just another way to keep us from our needs.
If you, or someone you know, is currently struggling with getting a proper good night’s rest, here are suggestions from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, also endorsed by the CDC. If you find that you still struggle even after following the suggestions below, it may be a good idea to speak with a therapist to potentially work through some of the underlying issues that may be standing in the way of sleep. The human psyche is quite complex, to put it mildly, and working together with a supportive and nurturing professional can be of great benefit in relieving some of the anxiety that lurks beneath. Here is the list, and may you get a good night’s rest for many nights to come!
Steps for a Good Night’s Rest:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
- Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
- Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
- If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
- Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
- Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
- Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
- Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
- Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
- Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.