By Duke Health & Well-Being Mental & Emotional Well-Being Team
Sleep is one of the four pillars of a stable mood. It’s almost impossible to feel well when we are not sleeping well. Many factors impact our sleep, both emotional and material. When you are struggling with sleep, a good starting place is addressing the aspects of sleep hygiene that are within your control. For example, I may not be able to control the reality that grief impacts sleep, but I can control if my sheets are clean and what activities I do before bedtime. When we are facing emotional challenges, it is important to give our bodies as much support as we can. Follow these seven simple steps to better sleep hygiene.
We rest better in spaces that are clean and welcoming. Try to avoid doing activities like working in your bedroom. Keep the space for rest and intimacy. Is there clutter? Are your sheets clean? Is the bed made?
Don’t look at TVs, computers, or phones at least one hour before bedtime. The lighting of the screen prevents our bodies from making Melatonin and the content we tend to look at on screens keeps our brains whirring rather than settling down. An hour before bed consider dimming the lights and ditching the screens.
Do you get ready for bed, in the same way, each night? Try to build a consistent bedtime routine that you do each night in relatively the same order around your hygiene, changing clothes, and settling in for sleep.
Use things that comfort you in the hour/s leading up to sleep. Read while wrapped in a comfy blanket. Have some calming tea. Listen to gentle music. Use calming smells like lavender.
Don’t drink caffeine after 2 p.m. For some of us, we shouldn’t drink any caffeine after 12 p.m. Caffeine is a stimulant and even if we don’t drink enough to feel jittery, it still impacts our nervous system’s ability to settle down in the evening
Don’t exercise right before sleeping. Gentle moving and stretching are ok but try your best to keep your exercise limited to before dinner time.
Sometimes napping is essential. Sometimes it’s just darn pleasurable. But when we nap consistently it throws off our internal sleep clock. If you are having trouble sleeping, try giving up naps for a few weeks and see what happens.
About Duke Health & Well-Being Mental & Emotional Well-Being
Mental and emotional wellness places a distinct emphasis on identifying your individual strengths and cultivating the skills for successfully adapting to life’s challenges. We are passionate about working with you to navigate your inner compass and live a more meaningful, values based, and fulfilling life. We use a variety of evidence-based approaches to help you embody a healthy lifestyle by setting realistic goals to help you reach your full potential.
Duke Health & Well-Being Mental & Emotional Well-Being Team
Caroline Stayer-Brewington, LCSW, Duke Integrative Medicine
Sofia Rydin-Gray, PHD, Director of Behavioral Health, Duke Diet & Fitness Center
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