by Lucas Myers
With people juggling work, school, friends, families, and the 1,001 other things we've got to do everyday, Americans are not getting enough sleep. This week we continue our 3 part series 10 Tips to Stop Sleep Anxiety: More Rest, Less Stress.
4. Practice good habits
Having the same bedtime ritual night after night teaches your body when to expect sleep and eases the transition into a drowsy, bed-ready state. Bright lights, especially those from TV's computers and other electronics promote alertness, so try to avoid them before bedtime. Instead, try reading a book, taking a soothing bath or shower, listening to relaxing music and dimming the lights as you get ready for bed.
5. Eliminate distractions
The bedroom should be your sanctuary for sleep, so avoid watching TV in bed, bringing the laptop to bed, or engaging in any other activities. You want your mind to associate this setting with relaxation and rest rather than stimulating daytime activities. Consider setting limits on children or pets sleeping in your bed with you.
6. Get comfortable
Find bedding that feels comfortable to you. If you share your bed, make sure it is large enough for both of you to sleep comfortably. Most mattresses last 9-10 years; make sure to replace them when they exceed their life expectancy because a good mattress should be comfortable and supportive. Your pillow should support your head without straining your neck. Make sure your bedding is allergen free.
7. Set the mood
Dark curtains can help prevent light from inadvertently resetting your internal clock. Even the tiny light from an alarm clock can be disruptive so seek ways of limiting light pollution. Even small noises can interrupt sleep. Earplugs are helpful for some. A fan, or a free white noise app on your phone can help cover the sounds of noisy neighbors, car alarms, traffic and other disruptive nighttime noises. To keep your bedroom from becoming too hot or dry for comfort consider a fan, air conditioner, or humidifier.
REMEMBER: Having an occasional sleepless night is normal, but if you are experiencing a pattern of restless or sleepless nights, don't hesitate to seek an expert, especially if lack of sleep is beginning to interfere with your normal daytime functioning. Contact your doctor to determine whether physical causes may be contributing to sleep problems. If your physical health is sound, contact a psychologist with experience treating sleep problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based treatments are highly effective for improving sleep. If you are in the San Diego area and you would like to speak with one of our other qualified therapists, you may contact the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management at 858-354-4077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more tips? Subscribe to the CSAM RSS feed, and follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@CSAMSanDiego) so you don't miss Parts 2 and 3 of our 10 Tips to Improve Your Sleep and articles on other hot topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and more.
Dement, William C; Vaughan, Christopher (1999). The promise of sleep: a pioneer in sleep medicine explores the vital connection between health, happiness, and a good night's sleep. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-32008-6.
Sleep Tips: Seven steps for better sleep. Mayo Clinic Staff. Retreived on November 25th, 2013 from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sleep/HQ01387
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