After more than a year of tossing around fitfully, it’s time to get some sleep. Worries over our health and finances, grieving those we’ve lost, and loneliness continue to keep us awake. Sleep routines that worked in the past no longer lull us into slumber. It’s time to try something new and get a better night’s sleep.
We’re not alone during these sleepless nights. According to a survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, approximately 40 percent of the population experienced stress-sleep problems during the pandemic. Disruption of daily routines and circadian rhythms caused every day to seem like being lost in Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” but without the laugh track.
The Better Sleep Council declares May as Better Sleep month. It is also observed as National Mental Health Month, and, as we know, lack of sleep impacts our mental well -being. So, this seems an ideal time for getting into a better sleep routine.
Numerous organizations, including the two mentioned above, offer helpful resources for improving sleep routines. However, discuss with a healthcare provider any problems with sleeplessness or insomnia as it could be symptomatic of other medical conditions.
Here are a few tips for getting better sleep:
Spend less time in bed.
While it seems counterintuitive, we should avoid going to bed until sleepy. Tossing, turning and worrying about not going to sleep doesn’t help us doze off.
When having trouble falling asleep, get up and go to another room. Turn on low lights, play soothing music and read a book—not a digital device—until sleepiness takes over.
Avoid taking a laptop to bed. Just a few more minutes of work only increases anxiety.
Wake up at the same time every day.
For a better sleep routine, follow the same wake-sleep cycle even on weekends. This helps regulate our circadian rhythm. Figure out the best time for going to bed and awaking to fit our schedules. Start with no less than six hours—increasing gradually—and set alarms accordingly. Many smartphones and home AI devices have health apps and data that alert us to “wind down” time. Power down everything and start getting ready for bed when the timer goes off.
Follow other healthy daily habits.
Healthy sleep, food and exercise habits all contribute to overall wellness. Eat three or even four balanced meals at set times and stick with a set exercise schedule to help maintain the circadian rhythm for better sleep.
Concentrate on something besides sleep.
Most of us have had restless nights of waking up every hour before catching a flight or attending an early morning meeting. To prevent anxiety about sleeping, we need to alter our thoughts.
There are numerous guided meditation apps with soothing voices to help us drift off. Sound machines with white noise or peaceful ocean sounds can also have hypnotic effects.
Practice good sleep hygiene.
Along with aiming for seven to nine hours of nightly sleep and keeping consistent bedtime, keep the bedroom for sleeping—or romantic pleasures—only. Set offices or exercise equipment anywhere else in the house. Make the bedroom a restful sanctuary.
Keep the room cool, quiet and dark at night. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. If exercising at night, allow time for endorphins to settle down. However, some restful yoga poses such as child’s, corpse and leg-up-the-wall poses, can help with better sleep. A warm bath and aroma of lavender essential oil also relax the body and mind.
If you have concerns about the quality of your sleep, contact our Sleep Disorder Experts at Thibodaux Regional Sleep Disorders Center by calling 985.493.4795 or visit