Improving Sleep Hygiene

As somebody with a history of depression and the tendency to stay in bed all day if only my toddler would let me, I struggle with sleep hygiene. During my second cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) session last month, my therapist gave me a list of ways to help improve my sleep hygiene. I want to share these helpful tips with you, especially if you deal with frequent bouts of insomnia or have mild to moderate depression.

Improving Sleep Through Behaviour Change

Stimulus Control Procedures

  1. Go to sleep when you are sleepy.
    The longer you stay in bed, the more the bed is associated with a place to be awake instead of asleep. If you need to, delay going to bed until you are sleepy. No, this does not mean watching TV or using your smart phone. Screens emit a blue light which messes with your circadian rhythm.
  2. Get out of bed when you cannot fall asleep or go back to sleep in 15 minutes. 
    Get out of bed if you cannot fall asleep after giving it your best effort. It is better to get out of bed than it is to keep laying in bed with your ruminating thoughts. Once you are out of bed, return to bed when you are feeling sleepy again. The goal is to associate your bed with sleepiness.
  3. Only Use the bed for sleep and sex.
    Avoid other activities that do not involve sleeping or lovemaking. Activities to avoid include watching TV, listening to the radio, eating, or reading in your bed.

Sleep Hygiene Guidelines

  • Caffeine Avoid consuming caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime. Caffeine disturbs your natural sleep rhythm. I would suggest cutting off caffeine consumption around 1700 (5:00 PM) so you will feel sleepier prior to bedtime.
  • Nicotine Avoid nicotine before bedtime because nicotine is a stimulant which keeps you awake. Avoid tobacco before bedtime and during the night as well.
  • Alcohol I don’t know about you, but alcohol makes me drowsy. Even though alcohol promotes the onset of sleep which makes you feel sleepy, alcohol also interrupts your natural sleep pattern. Avoid consuming alcohol less than 4 hours before going to sleep.
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Because we don’t get this drink in Canada. If it’s fruity and sweet, I’m probably going to drink it.

  • Sleeping Pills Sleep medications are an effective short-term treatment for people who struggle with falling asleep at night. However, sleep medications lose their effectiveness in approx. 2-4 weeks when they are taken regularly. Over time, sleeping pills may actually make sleep problems worse due to dependency; withdrawal from the medication can cause insomnia. Use sleep medications only if you need them and avoid relying on them long-term.
  • Regular Exercise Do not exercise within 2 hours of bedtime since exercise excites the nervous system and interferes with your ability to sleep. I am guilty for exercising right before bedtime…
  • Bedroom Environment Your bedroom should have a moderate temperature and it should be quiet and dark. Personally, I leave the window open at night and close the blinds. Also, I sleep with earplugs and an eye-mask which helps a lot.
  • Eating A light bedtime snack, such as a glass of warm milk, a banana, or a piece of cheese can promote sleep. Avoid eating snacks in the middle of the night because awakening may become associated with hunger.
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Eat all the yummy things; my mom really knows how to host a party! 🥳

  • Avoid Naps OK, I am totally guilty of this one! I love afternoon naps and will occasionally take an afternoon nap, typically lasting at least 1 hour in length. Now that my toddler lives with me 24/7, she doesn’t let me take naps. The sleep you get during the day will essentially take away from the amount of sleep you need that night. If you must take an afternoon nap, schedule it before 1500 (3:00 PM). Do not seep more than 15 to 30 minutes, according to doctors’ recommendations.
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Now that is the biggest yawn I’ve ever seen! 😂

  • Unwind Before Bedtime Allow yourself at least 1 hour before bedtime to unwind. Find what works for you to wind down, and give yourself an hour to do so. Consider reading a book or writing in a journal before you fall asleep.
  • Regular Sleep Schedule Keep a regular time each day (7 days a week) to get out of bed each morning. Keeping a regular waking time helps set your circadian rhythm so that your body learns to sleep at the desired time each night.
  • Stick to the Plan Set a reasonable bedtime and rising time, and then follow through with the plan long-term. Set the alarm clock and get out of bed at the same time each morning, regardless of your bedtime or the amount of sleep you got the previous night. This guideline is designed to regulate your internal biological clock as well as reset your sleep-wake cycle.

Monkey Business by Rebecca Tan 🐵

I would greatly appreciate any feedback or tips that you have for fighting insomnia. Let me know if anything on the list has helped you achieve a good night’s sleep by joining the conversation and leaving a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

great-vibes.regular (1)

 

53 thoughts on “Improving Sleep Hygiene

  1. V says:

    Sleep is definitely something that I struggle with. I also drink caffeine a lot later than I should, so that could be a big part of the problem.

    I would say these all sound like really great steps towards getting a good night’s sleep.

    One of the things I think makes a big deal for me is destressing. I like taking a bath, or painting my nails, or doing something that’s… for me. It helps me wind down and makes me feel a bit better about myself. I think it’s condusive to better sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Caffeine definitely plays a big role in sleep regulation. If you are able to cut down on your caffeine consumption by replacing your caffeinated beverages with herbal teas, it should make a difference. I agree that the advice the therapist gave is very useful – implementing them is still a struggle for me but I am trying. 😅

      De-stressing is a great idea before bed. All of those things that you mentioned sound really lovely. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, V. 😊🌹

      Like

  2. popsiclesociety says:

    Having a sleepless night, I’m sure is not easy to handle it the next day…Usually I’m so tired that I sleep before even my head is reaching the pillow 🙂
    One thing I like to do is to only use the bed and the bedroom in general only when I go to sleep or sex yes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hi Ribana! 😊 Sleepless nights make the next day much more challenging and less productive I find. You are one of the lucky ones who is able to fall asleep so quickly! 😴 My bedroom is also part of my study area (there is a desk where I do homework). That being said, my laptop stays at my desk. I might read a book in bed which I think is fairly safe as long as my phone or laptop stay out of the bed. Thank you for reading! ❤

      Like

  3. ciccolady says:

    Good morning lovely Hilary, tell me about it, i had so many sleeping troubles, one day i got enough and i started to google it all out. After my research i talked to my psychotherapist and he said, that the research i did is really good, so i started to follow all the steps, today i go to sleep very early around 9pm and get up arround 4am, i always wanted to do that, finally i’m able too.
    About going to sleep when you are sleepy is very important, others wise after we wont be able to sleep for at least few hours.
    I stopped to drink a lot of coffee, maximum two, one in the morning and another one at lunch, its really works, i’m so happy you wrote about it, because have what to say about this topic💙
    To have a schedule and to stick to the plan its the best, this way we can keep a regular routine, i have noticed, that i sleep well if i keep window open about 15minutes before sleep, feels more fresh. Another thing i always turn off all the technology, to drink less at evening, this way i can sleep without walking up for the bathroom. HAVA A NICE DAY, HILARY, your pictures and context is great🤗

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Good evening, Ilona!💕 Becca has been demanding my attention all day, and for once, the cat isn’t walking across my keyboard. Does your cat walk across your keyboard too?

      Thank goodness for Google search. There are so many helpful articles online! My question is, which article is the best one? 😂 That’s good that you saw a professional to get confirmation regarding which techniques to implement, and I am happy that it is working for you. 😊 Your schedule sounds ideal (early night, early morning). Sadly, I cannot go to sleep so early because the neighbors upstairs are noisy until 2:00 AM and I am sensitive to the noise, even though I wear earplugs at night. In January, I will have to wake up at 4:30 AM which I am nervous about, especially because of the noisy neighbors keeping me up at night. I have complained in the past, but it didn’t really make much of a difference. The joys of apartment living *sarcasm* 🙄

      I also keep the window open at night because I prefer a cooler temperature. The apartment is very very hot during the day (there is no air conditioning). These are very good points you made; turning off technology and blue screens (phone, TV) is something that I feel like most people have a hard time putting away before bedtime. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am sorry for being so slow replying. Sleep well, Ilona!💙

      Liked by 1 person

      • ciccolady says:

        I can understand, kids need atention, no my never walks across the keyboard, she laying down on it🤣😂
        I think that is difficult to chose one article, becayse they all similar🤣i m talking in general if you take any other topic is the same😁 i have to keep up witg schedule, only this way i can manage everything💚omg your so annoying, that you cant sleep because they are so annoying, i would go to complain🤣
        Thank you💚

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Jenny in Neverland says:

    I never have trouble going to sleep but I always tend to wake up multiple times a night – usually to wee! It’s really annoying. I work from home and sadly my bed is my only option to work sometimes as there’s always people and distractions elsewhere x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      You are one of the lucky ones, Jenny! Being able to fall asleep is half the battle. Waking up multiple times during the night must get annoying. Is it possible to stop consuming beverages 2-3 hours before you go to sleep?

      I’ve got a desk in my room as well for homework. It’s in the same room but the laptop stays off of the bed. If there’s room for a desk, it’s worth the investment. Thanks for reading! 💜

      Like

  5. 𝕬𝖓𝖌𝖊𝖑𝖎𝖈𝖆 𝕽𝖔𝖘𝖊 says:

    Good afternoon, Thank you for sharing these helpful tips with us. The point about exercising is a new information to me. I think that the most important thing is to try not to go deep with thoughts and overthinking. Once the mind is in peace and clear, it will be easy for the body to rest. I would like to thank you for liking my latest blog post “The Lowest of The Low Pearl 💔😭”. It meant so much to me. Have a lovely day. 🌸

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hi Angelica, I’m happy that you enjoyed this blog post. I completely agree with you – having ruminating thoughts at night can make falling and staying asleep very challenging! Sometimes it helps to write these thoughts down on a piece of paper so these thoughts have somewhere to go. 🌙✨

      I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to leave a comment on your latest blog post. I enjoy following your blog and reading your words of wisdom. Have a lovely day as well! 🌸

      Liked by 1 person

      • 𝕬𝖓𝖌𝖊𝖑𝖎𝖈𝖆 𝕽𝖔𝖘𝖊 says:

        Hi Hilary, I hope you are having a great day. Thank you for agreeing with me & I will give your advice ago. 👍🏼

        You following my blog page, reading my blog posts & liking them is a blessing to me. To know that you have been enjoying my blog page has brought warmth to my heart. What I am trying to say is that you didn’t have to apologize. I appreciate your kindness & support. It is pretty clear that words of wisdom are so bright within your blog posts as well. Lovin your blog page & God bless you ☺️🦋

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I will continue liking and commenting on your blog, and I am happy that it means so much to you. It’s always nice to get feedback and engagement I find, so it’s the least I can do 😊🌺

        My blog is still young, so it really means a lot getting comments from you. Thank you so much for your kind words. Have a good day! 🌸🌸🌸

        Liked by 1 person

      • 𝕬𝖓𝖌𝖊𝖑𝖎𝖈𝖆 𝕽𝖔𝖘𝖊 says:

        Reading your reply was such a delight moment. I have been showered with your kindness and no words can describe how I am feeling. The least I can do is to continue to support your blogging journey and your blog page. I look forward to hear from you again whenever I publish a pearl. I hope you will always be happy. I couldn’t agree with you more, there is something special in talking to other bloggers. Therefore, I always pay attention to my blog page readers by showing them my appreciation through light comments. 🦋

        Your blog page might be young but you never know how much impact it has on others who came across it. 😉 Even though I have been blogging since April 2017, each comment I have been receiving till this day is special to me and gives me a good feeling. That is why I love commenting on others’ blog posts because I know how it feels to receive one. You are so welcome & I apologize for my long reply. Have a lovely weekend Hilary ☺️🌼🌸

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Dr. Thomas Maples says:

    Great post and advise. I will oftentimes recommend bedtime herbal teas, melatonin, and unwinding in in a lavender and or Chamomile bath. This allows the deep sense of relaxation to manifest which will aid the body and mind towards its sleep time journey. A second and oftentimes very misunderstood concept is the use of personal devices right before bed. Phones, tablets, and devices are meant to keep the brain tuned in and productive, they are not agents for relaxation, even if what you are doing is an activity such as reading due to the frequencies and type of lighting they emit.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you for your insightful comment, Dr. Thomas Maples. 😊 Herbal teas are wonderful in the evening. Sometimes, I take a combined melatonin/magnesium supplement, but I haven’t been taking it regularly. I feel like blue screens (TV, phone, tablet etc.) are hard to put down at night, and that these devices are an addiction for many people. I used to use these devices in bed and would stay up until 5:00 AM chatting with people online (no joke). Now that I have more responsibilities, I don’t have the “luxury” of staying awake all night, and nights when I do have insomnia, it’s not exactly a fun time. My insomnia is worse on nights when I am anticipating something stressful the following morning, like clinical rotations for example.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dr. Thomas Maples says:

        Rotations are always an anxiety provoking event. The way we overcome it is to practice at it. Anxiety is a natural biophysical process produced by psychological events. It’s meant to keep us alive. It naturally rises in new circumstances, but then falls as we develop an accustomed presence to the new scenario we undertake. Good luck with your rounds.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment until now. Practice definitely helps, and I guess that more practice is needed. Thank you for your advice. 🙂 I will definitely practice more so it’s less anxiety provoking!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hi Michelle, I am sorry that you are dealing with an unpredictable work schedule.😟 That is totally understandable as to why it would be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Keep advocating for better hours and don’t give up! 🙋‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      It’s good that you are aware of your triggers, and being sensitive to caffeine isn’t a bad thing. It sure beats being addicted to coffee and the negative side effects associated with caffeine withdrawal. ☕

      Do you drink tea? 🍵 Green tea isn’t nearly as caffeinated as coffee, and herbal teas are caffeine free. There is something very comforting about drinking a hot beverage. Thanks for reading! 😊💕

      Like

  7. PoojaG says:

    I have pretty bad insomnia as well and I think avoiding caffeine as well as exercise really helps me with it. I also like to take some hemp oil before I sleep which has been doing wonders for my sleep quality.

    Liked by 2 people

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