4 Ways to Get a Better Sleep
So many of us struggle with sleep, and that's not even including anyone with an actual diagnosis of insomnia. Falling asleep... staying asleep... getting enough sleep... getting too much sleep... These are issues many people deal with. Depression, anxiety, and pain can all lead to more issues with sleep as well. Often with depression, there is a tendency to feel tired, leading to more sleep than needed, which can actually add to feelings of lethargy and tiredness. Anxiety can keep our brains going at warp speed, making it difficult to fall asleep, including if we wake up in the middle of the night for any reason. This can also lead to us not getting enough sleep. Physical pain can lead to any of the above issues. Even mild stress can cause sleep problems. So, what can we do about it?
You may or may not be familiar with "sleep hygiene," which is a list of habits and actions we can take to improve our sleep. There has been a ton of scientific research on it, showing that addressing sleep hygiene can lead to great improvements in sleep quality and quantity. When sleep is better, we tend to have better moods, less anxiety, and less pain. Conversely, when we have better moods, less anxiety and less pain, we sleep better. Proper sleep hygiene is just one step we can take towards make a difference in all aspects of this cycle. And while there is actually a pretty decent size list of sleep hygiene habits we should practice, I've condensed it into a shorter list to help you get started.
Have the same bed time and wake up time everyday. I know it seems simple. It makes a huge difference because our brains actually like habits once they've been established. This is definitely more difficult for anyone who works shifts, yet doing it as much as possible can really help.
Only use your bed for sleep (and sex). We can train our brain to associate bed with sleep and therefore, make it easier to actually fall asleep. It's best not to have a TV in your bedroom, or to even read in bed. Only two approved activities.
Limit screen time before bed. I know this one is really hard for a lot of us (myself included). The recommendation is not be on any screens (computer, TV, tablet, phone) for an hour before bed. If that seems too daunting, start with no screens 15 minutes before bed and see if you can work your way up.
Do a relaxing activity before bed. This include not exercising at least 2 hours before bed. Relaxing activities might include taking a bath, reading, meditation or relaxation practices (such as progressive muscle relaxation), etc. Again, best not to do these activities actually in bed.
While there are definitely a lot more steps you can take, try out these and see if they start to make a difference on your sleep quality and quantity. And hey, I might even post a part 2 to this in the future to give you more ideas for getting a good sleep.