Rita Thompson, NBC-HWC
National Board and Mayo Clinic-certified Health and Wellness Coach
Sleep Hygiene refers to the choices and behaviors we have around falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up.
Sleep is a point of frustration for many of my Health and Wellness Coaching clients. Sometimes they are in a cycle of not sleeping enough or getting quality sleep, and they feel stuck in trying to figure out how to fall asleep more easily, stay asleep, or wake up feeling enough energy for the day ahead.
For those of you living with chronic health conditions, a lack of quality sleep can worsen brain fog, heighten pain levels, and lead to social isolation due to extra low energy levels.
The truth is, many of us have a slew of habits associated with our sleep routines. These might be habits we've had since we were kiddos, or we might have developed these habits as devices like cell phones play bigger and bigger roles in our daily lives.
If you feel frustrated with not getting enough quality sleep, here are some behavior choices to consider when looking at your habits around sleep patterns.
1. If you are someone with POTS, Dysautonomia, autoimmune, or other chronic illnesses, consider getting a sleep test. While these may not sound like a trip to Disney World, flagging any issues with restless leg syndrome, involuntary movements, or other sleep-disrupting issues could be a game-changer in getting treatments for better quality sleep.
2. Have a curfew for your phone. This one isn't easy for any of us, but your phone should be put away at least 45 minutes before bed. The blue light from your phone indicates to your brain that it should stay active, and the things you are looking at and scrolling are likely stimulating and even distressing.
3. If at all possible, exposure yourself to sunlight in the morning. Not only is it good for your mental health to catch some sunlight, but it also steadies your circadian rhythm, and is helpful in waking up your mind and body.
Finding practices to improve your quality of sleep is a pillar of building your overall quality of life. The list of sleep hygiene practices goes on and on, so there are plenty of modifications you could experiment with in improving your habits and behaviors around sleep.