The week of March 11th through March 17th is National Sleep Awareness Week. Sleep and sleep awareness are very important. Sleep may play a bigger part in your life than you may think or realize. Sleeping allows our bodies to repair themselves and helps our brains to secure our memories and process information. Good sleep is necessary for recovery and helpful in prevention of relapse if you are someone who struggles with an addiction. Poor sleep is linked to mental health problems like depression and anxiety and can significantly worsen the symptoms.
If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, don’t fret!
Here are some helpful tips on how to get better sleep every night.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule - try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day
Avoid stimulating activities before bed, such as exercising. Avoiding activities that increase your heart rate before bed when it should be slowing down for a nice relaxed sleep may help!
Create a comfortable sleeping environment
Hold back from keeping too many pillows or too many blankets on your bed. This has been said to disrupt a person's sleeping and make it harder for them to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Make sure you are falling asleep without any lights on! Yes, even little lights (like phones or watches) can affect your sleep!
Are you interested in trying relaxation techniques to try to get better sleep? Relaxation techniques help with bodily awareness and help to decrease anxiety about going to sleep. Here are just a few:
Deep breathing - try the app Breathe2Relax from the App Store/Google Play Store
Progressive muscle relaxation - try THIS video!
Mindfulness - check out THESE free guided meditations from UCLA!
Herbal remedies have also been known to help. Lavender, wild lettuce, lemon balm and Valerian Root are just a few herbal remedies known to help with sleep. Valerian root is used as a calming agent and a sleep aid. It is said to reduce the time it takes someone to fall asleep and increases duration and quality of sleep. Lavender is good for many things, even infrequent insomnia. Lavender tea may be a huge help for you if you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep.
Another way to help get better sleep is sleep restriction. Sleep restriction is limiting the activities you do wherever you sleep. Watching TV, playing on your phone, scrolling through social media, reading a book, eating, playing with your pet, doing your makeup, etc. in bed can cause you to associate your bed with all these activities that aren't sleeping! By avoiding these activities and associations, you will be able to train your body and mind to associate your bed only with sleep which can help you to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and have a better night's sleep.
Sometimes it really is little changes in our day-to-day lives that could change how we sleep. Take time this week to try a few of these and see what works best for you!