5 Helpful Strategies to Improve Sleep

5 Helpful Strategies to Improve Sleep

by Jared C. Bonnici, MA

One of the biggest factors contributing to your physical and mental well-being is the quality of your sleep. What comes hand in hand with quality sleep? Good before sleep habits.

One of the better pathways to improve more restful sleep is to establish sleep hygiene habits that will facilitate powering your body down for the night and getting yourself to a more peaceful, de-escalated state.

1. Get to bed around the same time every night. You don’t have to be too precise with the time you actually get to sleep, but you should try to start your nighttime routine within a 30-45 minute window of your desired time. This is important because the body naturally likes to begin powering down for sleep at around dusk of day due to our circadian rhythm.

2. Get plenty of morning sunlight upon waking. Getting morning sunlight is crucial to advancing our circadian clock and can help us fall asleep at our desired time at night. Dawn and dusk are the two most powerful times of day influencing our sleep cycle. Both of these tips involve light exposure; the effects of which have been studied endlessly. What can contribute to later bedtimes and difficulty getting to sleep is getting too much light exposure later in the day.

3. Avoid screens/light leading up to deciding to go to sleep. This is not specifically about reducing the light exposure, although that does help, but more so about disengaging your mind from potentially stressful, anxiety provoking things and becoming more present with yourself and attuning to your current state of mind and getting to sleep.

4. Spend time practicing deep breathing and focusing on your bodily sensations. This can help de-escalate your body and bring your heart rate and body temperature down to a better resting state. The body naturally wants to decrease its internal temperature prior to falling asleep and by slowing your breathing you can slow your heart down and naturally lower your body temperature.

5. One more thing that can help with perseverative thoughts keeping you awake while laying in bed is to write in a journal just prior to sleeping. This can help you to externalize your anxieties/worries and help you to plan the next day to relieve task oriented anxiety.