Sleep is an important part of our lives. Infants and babies spend most of the time sleeping, and as we grow up we regulate our sleeping such that we sleep anywhere from 5-8 hours per night. The quality of sleep is important to us as well. Science has not solved the mystery of sleep but we do know that lack of sleep affects peoples functioning. A quick search of literature shows that people report feeling tired, irritable, anxious, depressed when sleep is disturbed or cut short over one or several days. http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/10/3712.long#ref-4, http://www.cdc.gov/. Lack of sleep also affects attention and concentration, memory and decision making.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 41 percent of parents and 34 percent of children reported difficulty sleeping in 2014. Many people report that they dread going to bed : thats when the anxious thoughts race through the mind and worrying returns. Its difficult to switch off the thoughts and sleep seems elusive. People report that they feel they are constantly tossing and turning in bed, and report watching the clock, which adds to the anxiety.
I have found that the following 8 strategies will help in getting a good night sleep. It takes practice but its worth it.
1 Have a regular bedtime and regular time to wake up. Some people plan to get to bed by about 10 pm or 11 Pm and wake up around the same time each day.
2. Keeping a daily sleep log is helpful for some people. Its surprising to know that we do sleep at night, even though some days it may feel that we don't.
3. Have a pre going to bed routine. The body starts to anticipate that its bed time, turn off the TV, or take a relaxing bath, drink a warm liquid an hour ( no caffeine) or so before getting into bed. Do not fall asleep on the couch while watching TV.
4. Turn off the TV ( no TV in the bedroom) , I Pad, Tablet , Phone before getting into bed. DO not text in bed. Some experts even recommend not reading in bed. You can read in the bedroom but not in bed. Bed is for sex and/or sleeping.
5. Listen to relaxing and calming music as you lie in bed. Some people listen to nature sounds like the waves in the ocean. Find what works for you.
6. Regular Exercise during the day or evening, but not before getting to bed.
7. As the old adage goes, counting sheep or any other repetitive distracting activity is very helpful. Trying to remember all the vegetables that begin with the letter ‘l, for example.
8. Learn Relaxation exercises that you can use in bed. Progressive muscle relaxation, body scan etc are all useful tools to learn and practice during the day so they can be useful when needed.
If these strategies are not helpful, you might want to visit the Sleep Clinic and seek therapy. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a useful tool to learn.
If you would like more information please call 201-952-9905 or 845-369-7627