We must take care of our sleep habits just as we pay heed to healthy nutrition. Most of us are aware of feeling physically tired when we don’t get a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation also causes changes in mood, sometimes resulting in anxiety, depression, irritability, mental fog and confusion with difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
“Sleep is for the brain, not the body. Otherwise, an eight-hour binge watch could substitute for nightly slumber.” Christof Koch, Sleep with Half a Brain, Scientific American, September/October 2016.
Good sleep habits include:
Establishing a consistent daily time to sleep allowing for a full eight hours of rest.
Planning a minimum of one to three hours prior to the time to sleep for quiet, relaxing activity with no electronic light stimulation of the eyes by any electronic screens, including cell phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computers or TV screens.
Preparing the room in which you sleep so that it is dark, using room darkening shades if necessary. Do not allow the television to play as you fall to sleep as this stimulates the brain to an alert state that prevents deep sleep.
Not going to bed either hungry or overstuffed with food. It is best to finish your last meal about three hours before going to sleep. If hungry before bed, have a small soothing carbohydrate snack as opposed to protein that may keep you awake while digesting it.
Preparing your mind for sleep by focusing on positive interactions from your day, using a journal to record positive observations, statements of gratitude and positive intentions for the coming days.
Rather than watching television programs or news programs with violent or conflicting content, consider reading a magazine or book of light entertainment, poetry, visually pleasant art work, or other relaxing content.
Interacting with friends or family at this time of day in brief supportive interactions, saving emotionally intense, upsetting, or conflicting conversations for daytime encounters.
If sleeplessness becomes a chronic problem it is best to consult your physician to discuss a medical assessment so that you may correct any additional physical issues that prevent sleep.
Originally published April 1, 2017