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mental health bannerThis week I want to talk about Sleep Hygiene – and no that doesn’t mean cleaning your dirty bits before getting in bed. Sleep Hygiene is defined as habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis. And most of us completely ignore them.

Most of us don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, and it’s due in part to things we do, or don’t do. For those of us with mental health diagnoses, adequate sleep can mean the difference between staying stable and ended up unsafe. For those of us with Bipolar Disorder in particular, not enough sleep for long enough can result in a very dangerous manic episode.

But there are solutions and they’re pretty easy. Here are some steps you can take to practice good Sleep Hygiene:

  • You shouldn’t do anything in your actual bed except have sex or sleep. Everything else you do should happen elsewhere. This helps train your brain to know precisely what that bed is for.
  • Turn off the electronics an hour prior to the time you want to fall asleep. The light-waves emitted by tvs, computers, and other electronic screens actually stimulates the brain and causes you to stay awake longer.
  • Eat your evening meal at least 3 hours before laying down to minimize the potential for heartburn.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark when it’s time to sleep.
  • Some people (me included) find “white noise” helpful. I usually run a fan pointed away from the bed at the other end of the room.
  • If you take medication to help you sleep, make sure you talk to your doctor about how and when it should be taken for optimal effect.
  • Establish a night time routine that helps relax your mind and body and ease you gradually into resting.

What other suggestions do you have for good Sleep Hygiene?

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