There is nothing like the refreshed feeling of waking from a good night’s sleep. And, there is nothing like a few bad nights of tossing and turning to make you appreciate quality sleep. There are medical reasons sleep disorders, but more often than not disordered sleep is the results of poor sleep hygiene.
We talk about sleep hygiene and sleep culture as the behavior and habits that surround our bedtime relaxation. These behaviors can be changed and better sleep can be learned. Training does take time and patience. For the better or worse, people do get attached to their sleep culture, which makes re-training challenging, but good sleep can be achieved.
The first principle is to surround the bedroom and bedtime with only things and activity that pertain to sleeping. Remove TV, screens, phones, debris, clothes and work material. Include fluffy pillows, fresh sheets, perhaps a fan for some white noise. Set a bedtime that will accommodate you daytime routine, and keep this bedtime even on the weekends. DO NOT LOOK AT SCREENS (TV, tablets or phone) FOR AT LEAST ½ HOUR BEFORE BEDTIME. Consider a light bedtime snack that includes a cup of herbal tea, but don’t eat in your bedroom. Take care of your teeth and bathroom needs.
Approach your bed with a grateful feeling,such as telling yourself “Heaven, at last.” or “My favorite blanket.” No more thoughts of work, money, should’ves or what if’s. Think of something peace and happy. Find your most comfortable sleep position and align your spine with supportive pillows.
Now you are ready to empty your mind and fall asleep. This can be the most difficult step in re-training. Our minds tend to wander, and we need to control this at bedtime. Beginners should start by thinking of a single thought: prayers, counting (sheep), listening to your rhythm of breathing in and out. Yoga classes are excellent place to learn meditation. Noise distractions can be blunted with white noise, like the hum of a fan.
IF SLEEP DOES NOT OCCUR IN 30 MINUTES GET OUT OF BED AND RESET. Do something useless (like read the manual for the refrigerator). The goal is break bad sleep habits of giving into worries and develop the good habit routine ~ happy thoughts ~ body position ~ empty mind.
Persistent disordered sleep may need some medical intervention, but most providers will advocate a sincere effort to clean up sleep hygiene first.