Ask a Therapist: How can I get a Good Night’s Sleep? (answered by Dr. Erin Jacklin)

The Catalyst Center TherapistsGetting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for physical and mental well-being. If you are struggling to get enough sleep consider trying some of these tips.  If you are still not getting good sleep, consider getting your physical health checked out by your physician and talking to one of the therapists at The Catalyst Center. Sometimes sleep problems that aren’t helped by maintaining proper sleep hygiene can be caused by an underlying medical or mental health condition.

Look this list over and count up how many of these things you have done in the last week and consider making changes to your routine.

Things that are known to make sleep worse:

  • Napping during the day
  • Watching television,  working, or using electronic devices in bed (your bed should be for sleep and sex only!)
  • Using an electronic device with a bright screen within the hour before bedtime (e.g. a smartphone, a laptop)
  • Consuming caffeine, especially after 6pm (tea, coffee, most sodas, energy drinks, hot chocolate, eating chocolate)
  • Consuming alcohol (alcohol typically leads to interrupted poor sleep)
  • Eating a heavy meal less than 3 hours before bedtime
  • Staying in bed when you can’t fall asleep (if you have been trying to sleep unsuccessfully for 20 minutes of more, just get up and do something relaxing, then try again later)

Things that you can do that are known to improve sleep:

  • Regular exercise- at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes, but it is best not to exercise in the 3-4 hours before bedtime
  • Setting aside some ‘worry time’ each day (lat least one hour before bedtime) to write down any issues that are bothering or concerning you, then deciding to leave those worries behind until tomorrow
  • Relaxation exercises (e.g. square breathing, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation)
  • Having a soothing night time routine (e.g. taking a bath or a shower, reading a calming book)

Where you sleep is important, set the right conditions for great sleep:

  • Make sure the bedroom is completely dark (blackout curtains are helpful)
  • Make sure the pillows and mattress are comfortable and your bed is somewhere you really want to sleep
  • Make sure the bedroom is the right temperature- we sleep best when the room is a bit cool and we have warm blankets to snuggle up in
Wishing you Sweet Dreams!