Do you think you get enough sleep? According to The National Sleep Foundation, if you are between the ages of 18-64 you need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night! That is about ⅓ of our day! Considering ⅓ of our life is spent sleeping, we don’t tend to value or think about it as much as we probably should. Having the proper amount of sleep is a way for the brain and the rest of the body to recharge from the previous day. If you fail to get the recommended amount of sleep, your body will not be able to perform at its best the following day. It’s like not charging your phone before you go to bed. When you wake up, it’s not going to last throughout the day when you really need it. In addition to feeling tired, there are a lot of other serious health risks that can follow poor sleeping habits. According to Healthline.com, without the proper amount of sleep, your body’s immune system weakens, your likeliness of having weight gain, a stroke, developing cancer, and diabetes increases. Less serious or life threatening effects of inadequate sleep include: confusion, forgetfulness, and development of wrinkles or other signs of aging.
Now that we have gone over why sleep is important, the question is how do you get enough sleep? For those who are struggling to fall asleep, and stay asleep, it can be maddening. Tossing, turning, all night while wanting to fall asleep can be very frustrating. One way you can help prepare your body for sleep is by setting and sticking to a routine.
1. Make sure that your bedroom is a clutter free, relaxing space. If possible, avoid doing work in your bedroom to help your brain associate sleep with your bedroom rather than work. Dedicating an office/work space in a room other than your bedroom can help prevent your mind from wandering while trying to fall asleep.
2. Don’t eat anything heavy or drink copious amounts of fluids within an hour of laying down. If you take medications or supplements at night like melatonin, do so an hour or half an hour before you want to fall asleep.
3. Limit your technology and screen time before bed. Turn off your phone, computer and TV at least an hour before you go to bed. During this hour, make a short to do list on a piece of paper of what needs to be done in the morning. This list will help keep you on track in the morning.
4. If you find music calming, then create a playlist with slow, relaxing music. Start your playlist as you begin your bedtime routine.
5. Take care of yourself! Brush your teeth, wash your face, and take a shower.
6. If you feel worried or anxious about something, try journaling or writing about it on a piece of paper before you get into bed. If you still feel anxious, or your mind is racing, try meditation or yoga. Click here for some yoga poses that can help you relax. Click here to read about HeadSpace, an app for guided meditation.
7. Once you are ready, get into bed, and try falling asleep. If you are having a difficult time, Dr. Vicky Seelall, recommends counting backwards from 100 or 1,000 with your eyes closed. You can also try counting backwards in multiples.
If you are still wide awake after step 7, try steps 4, 6, and 7 again. If this still does not work, it may be time to seek guidance from a medical professional. While clinician Danielle Feerst, OTR/L is not a somnologist, she is experienced in working with young adults who want to adopt better lifestyle choices and have trouble with sleep hygiene. She often works with young adults who need and want accountability, guidance, and coaching to accomplish their personal and professional goals. If you need someone to hold you accountable, or if you have questions or concerns about adopting a healthy lifestyle during the pandemic or beyond, then click here to book a consultation with clinician, Danielle Feerst, OTR/L. In addition, you can connect with us on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Written by Madison Gies, Summer 2020 Intern