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Wednesday, 26 Dec 2012

Improve your sleep hygiene to improve your sleep

By Private Therapy Clinic

By Rhianna Jones – Private Therapy Clinic Psychology Writer

What is insomnia?

Improve your sleep hygiene to improve your sleepWe have all experienced a bad night’s sleep, tossing and turning whilst the clock seems to tick increasingly loudly. When this becomes regular or the norm, however, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Not sleeping well causes fatigue during the day which is unpleasant and means that you can’t perform to the best of your ability. It can also drastically affect your mood. Equally, problems with mood or anxious thoughts can actually trigger the insomnia. Either way, there is evidence that improving your sleep hygiene can be the key to improving your sleep.

How can sleep hygiene help?

When we think of hygiene, we’re normally thinking about taking regular showers and brushing your teeth. But good hygiene can refer to anything that helps towards having a healthy life. In terms of sleep, that means having good quality, regular sleep that keeps you from being fatigued during the day.  Employing these simple measures has been shown to improve symptoms for a wide range of people, without having to resort to powerful drugs.  It might be worth a shot.

Ways to improve your sleep hygiene:

  1. Begin rituals that help you relax each night before bed. This way you will begin to associate the sequence of activities with sleeping. It can include anything which works to make you sleepy. Or, even a thorough skin routine, of cleansing, toning and moisturising, followed by brushing your teeth can be enough to make the association.
  2. Keep a regular schedule.  Along with keeping rituals, make sure that you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Altogether this helps to maintain your inner body clock. If your body expects to sleep at 10.30, it will sleep at 10.30.
  3. Avoid taking naps if you can. This will just confuse the body clock that you’ve been working so hard to perfect!
  4. Make time to wind down before bedtime. It would be a feat for anyone to fall asleep when they’re not tired. If it’s you’re scheduled bedtime and you are not yet sleepy, try to do something relaxing, but not stimulating, to take your mind off worries about sleep, such as listening to soft music, or browsing a magazine. This will relax your body and distract your mind.  If possible, try to do this in another room so that your bedroom becomes the place that you go to sleep, rather than the place where you worry about not sleeping.
  5. Make your bedroom quiet, dark, and a little bit cool. Our ancestors must have got it right, because it’s the kind of environment you’d find in a cave!
  6. Avoid drugs. That means avoid caffeine or alcohol after lunch, and nicotine right before bed. They all work to keep you awake. Most importantly try to avoid sleeping pills where possible. Doctors don’t like to prescribe them for long, and for good reason. They are highly addictive, and you’ll be hugely tired in the morning. Sleeping pills are a last resort for severe insomnia.
  7. Leave you worries at the door. A common reason why many people struggle to get to sleep is because they are kept up all night worrying. You might think that this is easier said than done, but a good way to forget your worries is to write them all down. Tell yourself you will think about them in the morning when they can actually be dealt with. You won’t be concerned about forgetting what you need to get done, and hopefully by morning it won’t seem so bad.

Is your insomnia becoming unmanageable?
Do you feel like you need a little more assistance with improving your sleep hygiene, or have you improved your sleep hygiene and found minimal results?
Call our team on 020 8150 7563 or 075 1111 6565 for a free 15 minute confidential chat or to arrange an appointment with an expert who will be able to help.

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