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August 21, 2023

Top Tips to Promote Healthy Sleep from a Behavioral Health Therapist

by Kenia Martinez, MSW,LCSW,

Taking control of your sleep health is crucial to help you live a healthy life and help you be at your best every day. The following tips can help you identify what is affecting your sleep. Ways you can improve your sleep and wake up feeling rested and full of energy.

If you find yourself not getting enough sleep, you are not alone. According to the CDC, insomnia is a major issue that is impacting 1 out of 3 people in the United States. Adults on average need 8 hours of sleep every night. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Insomnia can also manifest as waking up too early and causing us to lose vital hours of needed rest. These sleep issues often leave people feeling exhausted, sleepy, irritable, and make it difficult for us to show up for our families, and our responsibilities, it can even impact our ability to safely operate a car or other machinery. Over time, lack of sleep can jeopardize our mental and physical health and contribute to the development of other illnesses. Insomnia has been shown to play a major role in the development of other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mood disorders like major depressive disorder.

Insomnia can be caused by many other medical conditions. This is why it is important to talk to your primary care provider about experiences with sleep issues. For some people, insomnia can develop due to frequently experiencing high levels of stress or shifts in our reschedules that disrupt regular sleep. This is because the body has an internal clock that regulates our sleep, when we keep an irregular bedtime due to drastic work shift changes, traveling frequently, or staying up on weekends, it impacts our sleep health. poor diet habits, consuming certain types of drugs or alcohol can also impact sleep negatively.

Mood disorders such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder and traumatic experiences can also negatively impact sleep. Please consult a mental health provider if you suspect these conditions are influencing your sleep patterns. For many, following some simple tips can improve and even eliminate sleep issues, leading to immediate, restful sleep. Here are some tips that can help promote healthy sleep.

Tips to Promote Healthy Sleep

  1. Create a consistent bedtime that allows for about 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, yes this also includes weekends and holidays. Why is this important? Keeping a regular bedtime can help the body keep to an internal schedule that aids in us feeling ready for sleep consistently and naturally.
  2. Avoid the use of electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Activities such as scrolling through social media, working late on our computers can stimulate feelings or alertness that prevent sleep when we want it.
  3. Allow for 30 minutes to wind down before bed with relaxing activities such as journaling, reading a book, watching a comedy show, sketching, or listening to relaxing music.
  4. Set up your bedroom for a good night’s rest, set the temperature to a comfortable cool place, and make it as dark as possible.
  5. Avoid caffeinated beverages past the afternoon.
  6. Avoid alcoholic beverages and large meals before bedtime.
  7. Include 30 minutes of exercise a day, it has been shown to greatly improve sleep quality.
  8. Limit or eliminate naps during the daytime as they can interfere with your sleep at night.
  9. Create a sleep routine that overtime becomes associated with sleep with activities such as bathing, brushing your teeth, following a skin care routine etc.
  10. Use your bed only for sleep or sex, this means no working, eating, or hanging out in your bed.
  11. If after 20 minutes you are still struggling to fall to sleep, get out of bed and engage in a relaxing, quiet activity outside of the bedroom until you feel sleepy.
  12. Wake up at the same time every day, this will help in regulating your sleep.
  13. Try guided meditation or breath work to relax the body and mind.
  14. Eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, it has been shown to improve sleep quality.

Everyone deserves restful, restorative sleep, give these simple tips a try and if the sleep issues persist reach out to your primary care provider and to a mental health provider who can help you better understand that root of the sleep disturbance to provide appropriate treatment.

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