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Tips to Create Healthy Sleep Habits

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By now, most of us have been out of our regular routines and spending a lot of time at home for quite some time. Here are some healthy sleep habits to keep your sleep on track in these unusual times, when every day might feel like “Blursday” and tensions are running high:

Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Our bodies crave routine, and sleep is no different. Set your internal clock by waking up at the same time each day and going to bed at more or less the same time each night. Start your day as soon as you wake up rather than lingering in bed. Seeing daylight and starting your morning routine will signal your body to start building the drive for the next night’s sleep, which will pay off at bedtime. 
Stay active
This one may require creativity if you are isolating at home, but regular exercise is great for mood and anxiety and it’s important for sleep, too. Exercise helps your body build the drive for deep sleep. Try to time your exercise for earlier in the day and get your heart rate up when you do. Vigorous exercise too late in the day may leave you overly activated when bedtime rolls around. 
Skip the nap
Avoiding daytime naps helps you preserve maximum sleepiness for bedtime. 
Pay attention to your caffeine, alcohol or nicotine intake
All of these can interfere with your sleep if taken too close to bedtime. 
Create a bedtime routine
We all need a buffer between our daytime activities and sleep time. Take 30 to 60 minutes to shift from daytime mode and set the stage for sleep. This is a good time to get off screens, take a break from the news, and do something pleasant or relaxing such as reading, stretching, doing relaxation exercises, meditating or having a hot shower or bath. 
Reserve your bed for sleep
As much as you can, keep your sleeping space separate from your working or hanging out space. Do not use your bed for anything other than sleep (although you may want to make an exception for sexual activity). This will help train your brain to associate your bed and bedroom with the sleep response – and not with wakeful activities like watching TV, looking at devices, worrying or planning. The same principle applies if you are having extended trouble falling asleep or are up in the night. If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy enough to return. 
And lastly… don’t sweat it!
Ever tried extra hard to get to sleep? If so, you probably noticed that the harder you try, the more elusive sleep becomes, the more anxious you become about sleep, and so on. Watching the clock and doing mental calculations in the night are counterproductive for sleep. So are dire predictions about how changes to your sleep will affect your daytime functioning, or your future in general. 

Challenge these fears. Many of us are struggling to adjust these days, but your body is designed to produce the sleep you need. Most sleep problems get better over time, especially if you stick to the tips above.

 

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Set your internal clock by waking up at the same time each day and going to bed at more or less the same time each night.

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.