Sleep Hygiene To Help With Sleep Problems
I have had a really difficult time with sleep lately, so I thought I’d do some homework on tactics to get a better night’s sleep. I figure, if I am having sleep challenges, people who are in the trenches of caregiving are probably struggling as well.
The most difficult part is, when I’m lying awake at 3 a.m., I keep thinking, “I need to sleep! It’s the only way my body will recover,” which of course causes more stress and makes it harder to sleep.
If you or the person you are caring for are struggling with sleep issues, hopefully these techniques I’m sharing will help you. As a caregiver, it is important that you get enough rest to be able to face the day.
The University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine published some of their findings on taking an integrative approach to sleeping, which they recommend implanting as part of a soothing evening ritual.
Recommendations On An Integrative Approach To Sleep
- Be mindful of your basic rhythm of daily life by establishing a regular bed time and wake up time.
- Expose yourself to natural light in the morning and dim the lights in the evening.
- Avoid napping if you’re prone to insomnia – this is a big one for me. I can never nap because if I do, I don’t sleep at night.
- Manage caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and other stimulating food or drink later in the day.
- Try not to exercise less than 3 – 4 hours before bed as it can interfere with sleep.
- Avoid hard-to digest-foods before bed.
- Create a healthy sleep environment by keeping your bedroom cool, completely dark and quiet.
- Try not to watch the clock. It can be stressful calculating how much or how little sleep you’re getting
In addition to the tips from The University of Arizona, I have gathered other tips along the way that I’m trying to implement into my day and evening to make sleep more attainable.
- Listen to relaxing music before bed. A friend said she does this before bed so I gave it a try recently. Did you know Pandora has a “spa” channel that plays the type of music you here at a spa?
- Try gentle stretches to relax your muscles before bed. There are several bedtime yoga routines on YouTube.
- Learn to rest during the day with meditation and breathing practices.
- Use blue light reduction technology to watch TV or use computers of iPads before bed. I am guilty of reading on my iPad before bed and have started using the blue light reduction feature in the hopes it will help.
- Take a warm bath, journal or write out your to do list before going to bed.
- Consider natural sleep aids such as lavender and valerian.
- Go to bed when you feel sleepy. I have trouble with this one. I feel exhausted, but for some reason, when I get to my room, my brain starts going a million miles a minute.
- Use nighttime wakefulness as an opportunity to meditate.
And, to make us non-sleepers feel better, I’m sharing 10 Mistaken Beliefs about Sleep from the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
Myth: We should sleep at least 8 hours every night.
Truth: Our personal sleep needs can vary.
Myth: It’s ideal to always sleep through the night.
Truth: Occasional awakenings are, in fact, normal.
Myth: I can and must make myself sleep.
Truth: We can’t control the process of falling asleep.
Myth: I should just stay in bed and rest if I can’t sleep.
Truth: It is best to get out of bed at these times.
Myth: I’ll have a terrible day if I don’t sleep well.
Truth: Not necessarily, we are very resilient and can adapt.
Myth: Good sleepers fall asleep quickly.
Truth: It’s normal to take up to 20 minutes to fall asleep.
Myth: Good sleepers don’t dream.
Truth: Dreaming nightly is an essential part of good sleep.
Myth: It’s best to get up and be productive if I can’t sleep.
Truth: Being productive at night typically disrupts sleep.
Myth: It’s normal to sleep less as we age.
Truth: It’s common, but not inevitable or healthy or normal.
Myth: It’s comforting to check the time when sleepless.
Truth: Clock watching makes it harder to get back to sleep.
Hopefully, some of these sleep tactics will help you get a better night’s sleep. I’ll be working on integrating them as well.