you’re experiencing mild, occasional problems with sleep, try these simple strategies from sleep expert Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM.
1. Treat getting enough sleep as if it is as important as taking a medicine.
With all the demands on our time every day, you might put a good night’s rest at the bottom of your priority list. But Dr. Drerup says we need to schedule adequate time for sleep.
“It’s very easy to stay up late and burn the candle at both ends,” she says. “However, when you do that, you quickly run into a problem of dealing with sleep deprivation.”
2. Keep a consistent wake time.
Wake up at the same time every day, including weekends or days off. Waking at the same time every day will actually help you to sleep better at night. A fixed wake time helps to build a strong desire for sleep throughout wakefulness. This sleep drive gradually builds, and shortening it by sleeping in will make it harder to fall asleep the next night. Sleeping in on the weekend makes it much more difficult to wake up earlier on Monday morning.
It also is important, Dr. Drerup says, to do some relaxing activity such as taking a warm bath or reading a book before bedtime. By making these activities part of your bedtime ritual, you can train yourself to associate these activities with sleep. This association will help you to move more easily into slumber.
3. Put away the smart phones and tablets.
Electronic devices keep your mind humming — and far from the relaxed state you need to achieve before bedtime. Dr. Drerup advises it’s a good idea to put away devices like smart phones and tablets at least one hour before bed time.
4. If you do wake up during the night, avoid looking at the clock.
“The minute you look at that time it’s not just looking at one number,” Dr. Drerup says. “You start mental calculations, you think about how long it’s been since you’ve been in bed and what you have to do the next day. And before you know it, a long time has passed and that cuts into your sleep time.”
The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can contribute to insomnia. Instead of clock-watching and worrying, get out of bed after about 20 minutes. Do something relaxing like reading, watching television, or listening to music until you feel drowsy.