• Consider Your Sleep Hygiene

    Getting a good night’s sleep often proves difficult for many people. 

    Having an understanding of some of the factors that could either help – or hurt – your chances of a good rest can increase the odds that you will wake up feeling refreshed and not exhausted.

    Sleep problems are one of the most common complaints for persons who seek counseling

    It can also be a symptom of anxiety, depression or other medical/mental health condition that may require the advice of a doctor or other health professional.

    Below are 10 general guidelines that can be helpful in promoting “sleep hygiene” (the practices and habits that promote restful sleep). 

    The tips come from the collective experiences of many patients that I have spoken to about sleep issues in the content of mental health treatment.

    • Unplug and disconnect from all electronics about an hour before bedtime.
    • Dim the lights, if possible, around the same time.
    • Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
    • Establish a consistent bedtime/wake time—even if you don’t have to be up early or go to bed early on certain days.
    • Use bed for sleep and sex only.
    • If you are unable to sleep after 30 minutes–whether when you are initially trying to fall asleep or if you wake up during your sleep time—get out of bed and do some type of quiet activity, such as reading, until you feel sleepy. Then try again. Repeat as often as it takes.
    • Keep a notepad by the bed—and write down thoughts you may have when you wake up. This practice can be especially helpful if you are thinking about things that have to be done when you finish sleeping.
    • Do not stare at clock—try not to even look at it if possible (consider turning the clock away from you or removing it altogether from your view).
    • Remember that you will eventually fall asleep and at least you are resting your body if you are not actually sleeping.
    • Remember that changing patterns of sleep takes time (weeks if not months), so be patient.

    Good luck with getting a regular, restful sleep. Hope these tips help.

    Contact the Mindful Counseling Center at 609-377-5859 to see if therapy might help you address sleeping difficulties you are experiencing concurrently with mental health problems.

    Written by Patrick Connelly

    Related: Introduce Self-Care Booklet