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One of the many unfortunate consequences of all the stress of the past year has been a nationwide disturbance in sleep. With rates of anxiety and depression skyrocketing, getting a good night’s rest can become increasingly difficult. Since we all know that good sleep is essential to good health, it’s important to learn how to sleep well. But with so many obstacles to getting a good night’s sleep, what can you do to assure the achievement of enough rest for good functioning during the rest of the day?
A set schedule is the single most reliable key to good sleep hygiene. It is ideal to go to bed at the same time every night and to wake via the same alarm every morning. No matter what, though, go to bed only when you’re tired. If you’ve laid in bed for 20 minutes and still aren’t asleep, get up, go somewhere else, and do something else until you’re tired enough to fall asleep. Did you do something stimulating just before bed, like exercising? That’s probably why you can’t sleep! So do things differently next time and wind down before bed.
Avoid eating or watching TV in bed, and never take your laptop, cell phone, or iPad to bed with you. You need rest from work, not to bring it to rest with you! Also, don’t use the bed as a place to resolve conflict with a partner or as a place to lie down while you try to solve a competitive business problem in your head. Anything that stimulates you while in bed is an enemy of your sleep.
Napping will rob you of the exhaustion you may need in order to get a good night’s sleep.
The more you struggle with sleep, the harder it is to get sleep. Clock-watching and worry that you’re not going to get enough sleep activates your brain’s arousal system such that your mind is too awake for your body to sleep. Challenge that mindset. Don’t watch the clock. Tell yourself that you’ve earned your rest. Having a positive attitude about sleep facilitates it.
Some ideas include muscle relaxation exercises in which you tense then relax muscles all over your body. You also can use visualization of being at a place that calms you, like on a beach. Routines like warm baths before bed and drinking warm milk also can help. Alcohol may help you fall asleep and relax, but it can interfere with the quality of your sleep and often causes you to wake up throughout the night. Definitely limit your intake of caffeine close to bedtime.
While times are tough, it is crucial to maintain a good sleep routine as a part of your self-care practice. If sleep remains an issue for you, therapists at Lyra who specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia can help you to adjust your body and mind to where it can get better rest.
Lyra can connect you to a therapist to analyze your sleep patterns and develop a customized plan to improve your sleep. If Lyra is offered by your employer, you can get started today. Sign up now.
And check in frequently here for more advice or follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for more insights into optimal well-being.
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Aptekar, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in using acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and other evidence based therapies. At Lyra, she manages clinical programs, develops content for workshops, and conducts therapy for high-tech employees.