Have you heard of the term sleep hygiene? Just like dental hygiene referring to preventative steps we take to avoid the drill, sleep hygiene includes all the strategies that set us up for a great night sleep. Whether you are suffering from sleepless nights, or you just want to maximize the sleep score on your FitBit, these strategies are perfect for everyone.
Sleep problems and insomnia are common to a variety of mental health difficulties, and are especially associated with mood disorders. Further, individuals with anxiety and AD/HD often have trouble “turning off” their active mind or worried thoughts. A calming and consistent bedtime routine, in which the bed and bedroom are associated with feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, is very important in sending the brain and body the signal that it’s time for rest.
If you are having sleep problems, first step is often to rule out medical problems or medication/substance use impact on sleep. Your family doctor can help you with this. Once you’ve ruled out physical issues impacting your sleep, there is a wealth of research support for CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia). Putting positive sleep hygiene strategies in place, working to increase positive and relaxing associations to sleep and the bedroom, and challenging negative and competing thought processes and frustration around sleep are all incorporated into this treatment.
As a trained CBT-I therapist and expert speaker on the topic of sleep, I always enjoy educating individuals and workplaces on improving sleep. And the pay off is huge: once our sleep improves, our whole look out on life improves. I’ve rounded up my favorite sleep hygiene strategies into a downloadable PDF that you can access by completing the form, below. As always, review these strategies with your medical or mental health provider to make sure they are appropriate for you and to problem solve any difficulties.