Thursday, March 1, 2012

12 Tips for Successful Sleep

Tips for better sleep - try out a few of these techniques and find out which ones work for you!

1. Turn off all electronics one hour before bedtime. This includes computer, TV’s and cell phones. The blue light from the LCD or laptop screen suppresses your body’s natural sleep chemical, Melatonin. Also, the action and engagement on the TV or computer makes your body’s daytime stress chemicals such as adrenaline spike making it difficult to sleep.
2. Establish a night time routine. The last 30-45 minutes before bed should be the same each night. Establishing a routine helps your body know what to expect when bedtime is approaching. This routine will cue your circadian, internal clock, to get ready for sleep.
3. Increase the amount of self-care and relaxation activities in your life. Make sure you are relaxing and taking care of yourself. That might be reading a good book, taking a warm bubble bath or doing some light stretching as you get ready for bed.
4. Exercise early in the day. Getting your heart rate up each day can help improve sleep at night. Try to avoid exercising a few hours before bed, and try to get your work out in the morning or early afternoon. Not only is exercise good for your mood because it boosts the feel good chemicals such as Seratonin, it also decreases stress. Exercising will help your body use its extra energy during the day so you don’t have to lie awake at night.
5. Avoid putting chemicals in your body, especially the chemicals that are stimulants or depressants. This includes alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other drugs. You might think alcohol will help you sleep because it is a depressant, but while you might fall asleep faster, the quality of sleep is decreased as the alcohol metabolizes.
6. Create the perfect environment. Make sure the bedroom is dark at night, and let light in when morning comes. You may have to turn your alarm clock around so the lights are not facing you or block blinking lights by covering them. Use soft, comfortable sheets and maintain a temperature that is comfortable for you. Creating the proper environment will help you sleep better.
7. Eat, Drink and be sleepy! Be sure to eat small meals throughout the day, the last one a few hours before bed. Also remember to drink water throughout the day and into the evening, just not too much right before bed or you will wake up to use the bathroom.
8. Try some Deep Breathing. Taking even 10 long, deep breaks helps decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, helping to prepare your body for sleep.
9. Practice a Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise, which incorporates Deep Breathing and working each of the muscles of your body then releasing the tension. You can find step by step guides online or check out the following youtube video:
10. Stop pressuring yourself to go to sleep, focus on the process of relaxing and winding down, the sleep will come. If you push yourself too hard to sleep, for example saying to yourself, “I have to go to sleep in the next 10 minutes or I will be tired tomorrow” it is too much pressure and you will have more trouble sleeping. Try reframing your thought to “I am feeling good, relaxing and getting tired now, and I will fall asleep when it is time to sleep.”
11. If you still find yourself unable to sleep, talking to a counselor can help you alleviate the stressors and anxieties that contribute to your not sleeping. If you would like to set up an appointment with one of our therapists, call 240-274-5680 for more information.
12. Medication can help. If you have tried all these options and still can not sleep, medication can help. There are a range of medications, from more natural options such as Melatonin to prescription medications that can help you get the sleep you need to feel rested and awake during the day.

Try out a few of these techniques and find out which ones work for you!

If you are looking to connect with one of the therapists at our center, we have three wonderful counselors at our practice who specialize in different areas. If you want help individually or as a couple, if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed and want support managing all of those feelings, and getting help figuring out what to do, call us today for a free consultation. You can call Amy directly at 240-274-5680 or by email at and we can get you set up with a therapist who will be the best fit for you. Visit for details.