All too often I see sisters saying things like, “They sleep while I grind,” and “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of ambition, drive, and perseverance, but what are we really saying when we use these phrases? When did it become cool to brag about not sleeping? Restful sleep is all too easily ignored and we don’t realize just how important it is for us to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If gone unchecked, a lack of sleep can really wreak havoc on us physically and mentally.  It can lead to issues like a loss of memory, decreased motivation, more depressed mood, decreased concentration, and increased anxiety. But a good night’s sleep involves more than just turning out the lights and cozying up on your satin pillowcase. Here are a few tips to help you improve your sleep hygiene.

1. Stop reading, eating, and studying in bed. Your bed should only be used for sleep and sex. Doing all of these other things in bed confuses your brain about what should be happening when you get in bed. Try to use other parts of your room or home for other activities so that your bed is really a place to retire.

2. Unplug! Of course it’s super tempting to check all of your social media accounts right before you dose off but doing so can lead you right down the rabbit hole to a sleepless night. When was the last time you really just spent 5 minutes on Facebook? It’s very easy to get caught up with the latest trending topic and lose track of time making it more likely that you won’t get the requisite number of hours of sleep. If possible, try not to keep your phone next to you at night so that it’s not even tempting to get into this bad habit. Also try unplugging from the television. Even if you think you’re not paying attention and only have it playing as background noise, your brain is still tuning in and being activated.

3. Stop checking the clock. One of the very first things we do when having difficulty sleeping is to check the clock and begin calculating how many more hours we have to sleep if we fall asleep RIGHT NOW 🙂 This is one of the worst things you can do if you’re having trouble sleeping. It only increases your anxiety and actually makes it less likely that you can relax and fall asleep. Try turning your clock so that you can’t see it at night so that you’re not as likely to engage in this unhelpful behavior.

4. Don’t toss and turn. If you lie down and don’t fall asleep after 15-20 minutes, just get up! Try doing something very monotonous like reading an old textbook or listening to a talk radio show that is of no interest to you. DO NOT, however, start checking your email, jump on instagram or start watching the new episodes of your favorite Netflix series. You do not want to do anything that is stimulating or interesting to you.

5. Keep a pad and pen next to your bed. Many times, we have difficulty sleeping because we are running through a list of everything that needs to be done for tomorrow or trying to work through some type of conflict we are experiencing. Some times it can help to write down all of the things that keep popping into our head so that we know that it will still be there in the morning and we don’t have to keep worrying about it tonight. Another good thing about writing things down is that in the morning, things may seem far less drastic than they did the night before, giving you some much needed perspective.

Dr. Joy