Sleep hygiene refers to a practice that is conducive to maintaining healthy and restful sleep. We live in a world where the “hustle” is a sign of success and is admirable; yes of course working hard is important and something to strive for, though we often forget about the importance of downtime. Here are a few tips, tricks, and ideas around taking care of yourself through your sleeping habits.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep allows time for your body to physically repair – all of those hikes in Glacier National Park and powder face-shots on Big Mountain require time to repair and recuperate from. When we allow our bodies to rest, we can often recreate and move more efficiently. It also helps our physical bodies maintain our immune system.
Sleep also allows your mind to repair – sleeping restfully and adequately helps improve memory and learning. It can lower anxiety levels (when we’re well rested, we also need less caffeine and excessive caffeine can definitely raise anxiety). Sleep is extra important for children and adolescents as it supports growth and development (stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about the stages of child and adolescent development – what behaviors are typical development and what might be warning signs of an underlying mental health issue).
How can I sleep better?
Each body is unique in how much sleep it needs to perform optimally, however there are techniques that can improve your chances of getting more out of your sleep. If you are able to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time everyday your body will begin to learn that pattern and optimize both the wake and sleep time. Regular exercise can do wonders for your sleep routine – our bodies are made to move and taking time 3-5 times per week has been shown to help us fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and have more restful sleep. Limiting screen time within the one to two hours before going to bed can be very beneficial as well – it allows our brains time to slow down and prepare for rest. Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet can also help with falling and staying asleep.
What are your sleep patterns like currently?
How do you want to change your sleep patterns or routine? Changing habits is hard!
Start with one or two of the tips listed above and find an accountability partner! Check in with each other to see how it’s going, turning the screens off or maintaining your sleep and wake time throughout the week. It can be beneficial to talk with your therapist about habit changes, as well.