Speaker: Nira Berry, Author and Healing Speaker
Scientific studies have shown the importance of sleep to our health and mental clarity. This discussion identified practices and habits that can help you maximize the hours that you have set aside for sleeping.
Sleep is a restorative process. It is when your body is in healing mode. The National Institute of Health recommends an average of 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Good sleep hygiene is not only about helping you fall asleep, but helping you to have purposeful sleep throughout the night. Here are some suggestions for achieving healthy sleep:
- Understand your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of a day. Most circadian rhythms are controlled by the body's biological clock. When there are changes or disruptions in your life, you will feel the impact, similar to a jet lag experience when crossing time zones. Try to go to bed at the same time every day and have a consistent wake-up time. Going to bed late and sleeping in the next morning effects your biological clock.
- Stay active. Daily exercise often helps people sleep, although, a workout soon before bedtime may be too stimulating and will interfere with sleep.
- Maintain a healthy sleep environment. Control your room temperature. Extreme temperatures may disrupt your sleep. Tidy up clutter in your room. Turn off cell phones and computers.
- Avoid drinks or foods that contain caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine is found in coffee, non-herbal teas, soda, and chocolate, and acts as a stimulant that can keep you awake. Alcohol prevents people from entering deep sleep which is necessary for physical and emotional restoration.
- Assess impact of medication on sleep. Some medications may cause you to feel fatigue or may act as a stimulant. Speak with your physician about the optimal time of day that you can take your medications to lessen the impact on your ability to have healthy sleep.
- Plan a bedtime routine. Try not to spontaneously go off to bed. There needs to be a plan in place to deescalate from your day. We are creatures of habit and by setting a routine into motion, we are alerting our brain that it is time to sleep. A routine can include a warm bath or shower, listening to soothing music, controlled breathing exercises, visualizations, or meditation. Working on your computer or answering calls or texts is stimulating to your brain. Give yourself enough down time between using your electronics and going to bed.
- Avoid lying in bed awake. If you are having trouble falling asleep, don't just lie in bed. The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can potentially contribute to insomnia. Keep a journal by your bed and use it to write your recurrent intruding thoughts. Having a place to put your thoughts can reduce anxiety. Jot down things you felt grateful for that day or what you are looking forward to the next day. Shifting your thoughts can create positive energy and promote restful sleep.
- Expose yourself to light within two hours of waking. If possible, wake up with the sun, or use very bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps the body's internal biological clock reset itself each day.
- Consult your treatment team. If you are having chronic sleep disturbances, speak with your treatment team. This is important information for them to have as they consider treatment options and quality of life.
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