For many, sleep is one of those constants in their lives; they go to bed, fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling rested and restored. For others however this appears to be a magical happening that they aren’t privileged to experience. Sleep pays a vital role in our lives as Thriving Clinicians and Thriving Individuals.
If you have a long standing sleep issue such insomnia, sleep apnea or difficulty initiating sleep it is wise to seek our your primary care physician to get started on diagnosing the problem. Diagnosis often requires a sleep study, which is an excellent resource to pinpoint what is going on for you.
Medication, even over the counter medication, is tempting but ultimately, not helpful to long term sleep. Prescription medication, while tempting, is only a short term solution and ultimately can be very habit forming.
Here are some tips to help you get started on the road to better sleep:
Get and stay in a ‘bed time routine’ for yourself. Start the process of getting to bed at about the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning ~ yes, even on weekends and holidays!
Reserve your bed for ‘bed activities’ only which means sleeping or sex. Having it be ‘mission control’ as one of my clients refers to her bed, only sends the message to your brain that you’re not really serious about sleep when you put your head down on the pillow. Reading, watching TV, talking on the phone or arguing while in bed all send the message to your brain that you’re not serious about sleep.
Be mindful of your diet. Caffeinated products such as coffee and tea are easy to spot and stay away from but did you know that some over the counter pain medications have caffeine in them? Or chocolate? Or cold remedies? Alcohol, while initially helping you doze off, may have the effect of agitating you later in the evening as it passes out of your system, having the effect of waking you up. Spicy foods can also have an impact on your sleep.
If worry or anxiety is an issue you can try writing down your thoughts prior to getting into bed and allowing them to be on the paper rather than your head before bed. You might also want to remind yourself that worrying about something at 2am is unlikely to solve the problem at that moment; far better to use your energies with a good night’s sleep under your belt to accomplish your task!
Wishing you all the best for your good night’s sleep as you strive toward thriving!