Sleep is an essential part of physical and mental health. I routinely see clients who are sleep deprived to some extent. It seems they fall into two categories: 1) Those that have insomnia and can’t fall or stay asleep and 2) those that don’t prioritize sleep in their schedule.I fall into the second category. Like many of you, I am routinely finishing up work and household chores at 11pm. I find I need time alone after the kids are in bed to decompress and relax. This creates the perfect storm for staying up too late and missing out on precious hours of sleep.
Strategies for night owls and sleep procrastinators:
1. Set a consistent bedtime and stick to it.
2. Gradually adjust to your new bedtime by going to bed half hour earlier until you’ve reached your desired bedtime.
3. Schedule 7-8 hours for sleep.
4. Prioritize your to-do list with the understanding that many items can wait until another day.
5. Nap if your schedule allows.
Strategies for insomnia:
1. Discontinue caffeine several hours before bedtime.
2. Clear your mind (journaling or meditation are good ways).
3. Create a calming bedtime routine. Remember how bedtime routines help children sleep (bath, get in pajamas, brush teeth, stories). Yours might be a cup of tea (decaf), journal, read.
4. Create an appropriate space for sleep. Your bedroom should be comfortable and uncluttered. Be mindful of temperature and light. Are you pillows and bed comfortable? You may need to invest some time and money in cleaning out your bedroom and/or buying new bedding, blinds, etc.
5. Consider listening to soothing music or nature sounds as you fall asleep. You can download many options.
6. Keep a dream journal. Recording your dreams when you first awake may give you some cues into unresolved issues or anxieties that are disrupting sleep.
7. Don’t nap during the day.
8. Exercise regularly.
9. See your doctor. Your doctor can rule out any physical reasons for insomnia, decide if a sleep study would be helpful, and talk to you about the pros and cons of sleep medications.
Wishing you a good night’s sleep!
©2013 by Sharon C. Martin, LCSW