With the holidays in full swing & so much excitement in the air, it’s easy to get our minds into a tizzy. Gifts to be purchased, holiday parties to prepare, and Christmas travels to book, life can sometimes seem as though there is no time for rest. Worse than that is when we attempt to rest and our minds are still actively running through the to-do list that hasn’t even been started. Whenever I find myself in this anxious state of mind, I remind myself of these sleep hygiene strategies. So you know, they were given to me by a psychologist & are tried and true strategies that really work.
So have a look, & enjoy your sleep.
1. Use your bed only for sleeping.
Your bed should be a respite from the stresses of the everyday life. Stimulating your brain in bed with “awake time” activities like reading, listening to music, or watching television will confuse your body into thinking that being in bed does not mean “wind down” and fall asleep. Engage in these activities elsewhere in the house, and when you get sleepy, head to your bed and dream yourself to sleep.
2. Develop a bedtime routine.
It might sound childish, but discipline yourself to going to bed at the same time each night (Although experts would disagree, I am all for cheating on the weekends!). Trust me, your body’s internal clock will thank you. Once your bedtime is set, count back thirty minutes and begin your bedtime routine. Adjust your heat/air conditioning to your nighttime temperature, dim the lights in your living room, and turn off those modern technologies that you can’t seem to pull yourself away from. Add in something for you here… Leafing through the magazine that just came in the mail or whatever your little heart desires.
3. Do not go to bed unless you are tired.
I know this sounds contradictory to the strategy I just mentioned, but hear me out. When establishing any new routine into your life, it takes time to click. If you are not sleepy until a very late hour, head to bed when you are tired and take note of the time. Go to bed fifteen to thirty minutes earlier each week until you are going to sleep at the time you desire. In a matter of a month or so, your bedtime should be set. It’s as simple as that!
4. If you are awake for more than twenty minutes, get out of bed, and go to another room immediately.
When the psychologist I see was explaining this strategy to me, I loathed the thought of extracting myself from my cozy bed to head to another room to read when I should be sleeping. Nuts, I thought… Until I tried it! Think about it. If you have been awake for more than 20 minutes tossing & turning in your bed, you are awake. Removing yourself from your bed until you tire yourself out again is the appropriate method that experts share w/those suffering from insomnia. Obviously, you do not want to head to the office and check facebook. But sitting (not lying) on your couch, curled up w/a cozy blanket, and taking some time to read Scripture or a book that will lull you back to a tired state is just what the doctor ordered. Once you feel yourself getting tired again, head back to bed and dream yourself to sleep.
5. Toss negative thoughts about sleep out the window.
Realize that not getting to sleep quickly is not the end of the world. And even still, not getting a good night’s sleep is not going to kill you either. Being an all or nothing thinker, I struggled w/this strategy quite a bit. There were times when I would call in sick to work because I had a rough night of sleep and thought I would not be able to function. Once I kicked this negative thought out of my life, I knew that I could make it through the day w/12 hours of sleep or 4. Of course, better days are usually the result of having a positive sleep experience, but time keeps ticking despite your sleep habits and you will be just fine as a result. As a handout I am consulting reads, “No one has ever died from not getting enough sleep.” Enough said.
And there you have it…
An easy to follow strategy for those sleepless nights!