Have you ever wondered how you can get better sleep and feel more well-rested?
If you feel like you’re not getting enough sleep or not sleeping as deeply as you’d like, it’s important to consider your sleep habits. If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, read on for some advice about how to improve sleep overall.
Learning about good sleep habits can go a long way toward helping you achieve a restful night’s sleep.
Maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule
In order to achieve the best sleep possible, the first step you can take is to go to sleep at approximately the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning—yes, even on weekends.
Your body’s circadian rhythm works with the light-dark cycle outside. So maintaining a consistent sleep schedule helps to get your circadian rhythm back in sync.
And you don’t have to set your wake time really early, the goal is to make it a time that you can consistently achieve, seven days a week. Your wake time should work with your schedule and your body’s needs.
And when considering a bedtime, remember that earlier isn’t necessarily better. Try to go to sleep only when you feel truly sleepy and avoid lying in bed trying to fall asleep. And this may give you the gift of more quiet time at night.
Wind Down Before Bed
Have you ever been working or studying until late at night, and then tried to go to sleep right away? If so, you may realize how difficult this is for your brain.
Giving yourself 1-2 hours of wind-down time before bed is a great way to prepare yourself for sleep. This time should be spent doing relaxing activities, like reading, listening to music, or even watching TV, as long as the content is light and calming.
You can see what relaxing activities help your mind and body feel calm before bed. Having adequate wind-down time can have a positive impact on sleep quality.
Only Stay in Bed While Sleeping
One mistake people often make is staying in bed if you can’t fall asleep, or if you wake up in the middle of the night. It’s important not to lie in bed willing yourself to fall asleep. It conditions your brain to be awake in bed, rather than sleeping.
If you have a hard time falling asleep at the beginning of the night, or you wake up overnight and can’t get back to sleep, get up and out of bed and do a quiet activity. Try reading, watching TV, or anything that is relaxing and not too stimulating. When you’re feeling tired and your eyes are heavy, head back to bed.
Make sure to keep your time in bed trying to sleep, only 15 – 20 minutes maximum. And you have a wonderful gift of more time to relax in your day.
Relax About Sleep
You might be subconsciously putting pressure on yourself to get a certain amount of sleep. And anytime we have pressure to do something “the right way” it sends danger signals to our brain.
To get more restful sleep, it’s important to let go of an idea of how you think sleep should be. If you’re not sleepy, don’t force it, and do your best to relax about sleep. Your body knows how to sleep and it will get there. If you can practice letting go of pressuring yourself to sleep, restful sleep will happen.
Rewiring your sleep is possible! And I hope these tips help you get there.
Annie Miller is a psychotherapist and owner of DC Metro Therapy, a practice outside of Washington DC.
Annie helps people reset their sleep and rewire their responses to chronic pain and trauma through evidence-based therapies and nervous system regulation tools.