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Sleep Hygiene

A good night’s sleep is crucial to our mental, physical, and emotional health. However, many people find themselves tossing and turning at night with thoughts racing through their heads, unable to get to sleep. Good sleep hygiene is just as important to our overall health as getting exercise, eating well, and staying hydrated. So, here are some tips on how to improve your sleep hygiene.
1) Formulate a bedtime routine. Give yourself about an hour to wind down at night without any screens. Find ways to calm your mind and prepare for bed, such as taking a bath or shower, reading a book, meditating or praying, or laying out your outfit for the next day. Listening to exciting music or reading a book you can’t wait to get to the end of might not be the best choices for your bedtime routine as they can intensify your desire to stay awake.
2) Exert yourself throughout the day. If you are physically exerting yourself through exercise and mentally exerting yourself by stimulating your brain through conversation, puzzles, projects, etc. better sleep is often achieved.
3) Prepare a good sleep environment. Colder and darker rooms are often conducive to better sleep. Whine noise machines or fans can help to block out noises outside of your room.
4) Avoid stimulants. This one may seem obvious, but stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine too close to bedtime can make you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. Similarly, the blue light from phones, computers, and televisions can be stimulating to your brain, throw off your circadian rhythms, and make it difficult to sleep.
5) Be mindful. Being in the present moment can help to relax your body and calm your mind, especially if you find yourself having anxious, racing thoughts when trying to fall asleep. Use your five senses to bring you back to the present moment – what does the bed feel like under you, what do you hear in your room, etc. If anxious thoughts are overwhelming you, be mindful of them. Identify the thought, tell yourself you will deal with it at a set time tomorrow, and let it pass by you. If the thought doesn’t go away, you might keep a pen and paper beside your bed to write it out. Remind yourself you will be more effective at solving the problem after a good night’s rest!
6) Consult with a doctor. If you are still struggling with sleep, it might be time to talk to a doctor. They can assess you for medical issues that might be interfering with the quality of your sleep, such as breathing problems and hormonal issues.
Quality sleep is invaluable to your mental health, so take care of your sleep hygiene just as you would any other aspect of your physical health!

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