Sleeping seems like such a natural thing that should just “happen” but for many people it’s not so easy. If you’ve ever struggled with falling asleep or staying asleep you know how frustrating and helpless this can make you feel – since you just want to sleep! If you’re having trouble sleeping you’re not alone, other people are experiencing the same issue. And along with causing you to be tired, not getting enough sleep can lead to other problems like increased risk of getting sick, having depression or anxiety, gain weight, decreased performance at work or school.
The good news is there are things that you can do to help you get the much-needed rest you need. Jennifer Tsappis, a licensed therapist who sees patients using LiveHealth Online has a few tips to getting on a better sleep routine.
- Stay on a consistent sleep schedule. Establishing a consistent sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends, can dramatically improve the way you sleep and feel! Our bodies thrive on consistency, once established (takes about 2-3 weeks) your body will respond to the rhythms you create to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and awaken refreshed!
- Find a bedtime routine that works for you. Create and stick to a regular, relaxing wind down routine before bed. Typically a routine that doesn’t involve screen time and includes reading, soothing music, calming baths and mindfulness exercise like deep breathing or meditation.
- Don’t be distracted while you sleep. Yes, we can also be distracted while we are sleeping! Eliminate “sleep distractors” such as TV, computers, cell phones and radios.
- Stay active and healthy. Exercise regularly, but not too close to bed time. Finish eating heavy meals 2-3 hours before bedtime. Also eliminate soda and heavy caffeinated drinks in the late afternoon and evenings and switch to water. Some people enjoy a cup of “sleepy time” tea before bed.
- Don’t toss and turn all night long. If you cannot fall asleep in 20-30 minutes leave your bed and do something distracting and try going to bed again when feel tired. Lying in bed feeling stressed about not being able to fall asleep, will only keep you awake.
- The bedroom is a relaxing zone. You should reserve your bed for engaging in relaxing activities or intimate activities. If your body and mind associates your bed with an increased state of alertness such as doing work in the bed or taking conference calls, it may be harder to fall asleep.
While these techniques sound simple, change is hard and sometimes life’s stress and anxiety can get in the way! Reach out for help; you can visit a licensed-therapist using LiveHealth Online by scheduling an appointment to discuss any underlying worries that might contribute to insomnia or having a tough time sleeping and to support you in making difficult life changes.
Comments and opinions are from Jennifer Tsappis, LICSW, alone. She is a licensed-clinical social worker who treats patients using LiveHealth Online Psychology.