10 Tips for Better Sleep and Function


Guest Writer: J. Decker, LPCC

How many of us regularly get way too little sleep? As evidenced by the long lines at every Starbucks I drive by, I would guess a lot of us. Sleep and productivity go hand in hand. Because I  am talking in the realm of mental health; I will hedge productivity in terms of human interaction, emotional control, impulse control, peace of mind, and ability to predict cause and effect with our thoughts, behaviors, and actions.

How many of us wait for some voice of reason (could be a caregiver’s voice or someone else) to shoo us off to bed? Or do we wait to go to bed when we can no longer keep our eyes open? I got pretty curious about all this sleep stuff and and looked into this trend called sleep hygiene. At first blush, I thought this notion was about keeping clean sheets. Well….it looks like sleep hygiene contains a couple of different components.

Sleep hygiene, in my view, begins and ends with self-care.

Let’s not wait for someone to tell us to go to bed, but trust ourselves enough to know when to go to bed. If we can stick to a schedule of going to sleep and waking up at the same time, we may see an improvement in day-time function. And a decrease in irritability, weight gain, PMS, stress, and many other issues.

Now if you are jumping for joy because you feel like going to bed at 1:45 a.m. will work for you every night, I have some advice if you are willing to take it. Going to bed before 10:00 p.m. restocks your restorative sleep bank. What does that mean? Well… deep in your brain there are glands that control hormones that regulate how much and how well you sleep. According to our internal sleep clock, 10:00 p.m. is the sweet spot for regulating those hormones.

So try it out. Go to bed at or before 10:00 p.m. (p.s. this is for adults, kids need much more sleep) and test out if you feel better and more refreshed during the day.

Here are 10 tips for better sleep to keep you as peaceful as you deserve:

  1. Do not consume any media 2 hours prior to going to bed (TV, computer, phone, screen time, upsetting books or music and angry conversations).
  2. Do not eat any heavy foods 1 hour prior to going to bed.
  3. Keep your room free of all artificial light (no TV or computer).
  4. Make sure your bed is comfy and inviting to you .
  5. Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary (about 65-70 degrees) .
  6. Go for a brief sunset walk prior to bedtime to increase the sleep hormone melatonin.
  7. Do not nap.
  8. Cut way down on caffeine especially after 12:00 in the afternoon.
  9. Keep a sleep/dream journal (record how you feel before you fall asleep and when you wake up).
  10. Tell yourself you are doing a good job of taking care of yourself by sticking to the plan.

If all else fails, try to go to bed at the same time for a week and see how you feel.

Don’t take my word for it, try it out and develop a plan that will work for you. Good night.


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