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    12 Tips for Restful, Quality Sleep

    Most of you know the physical benefits of getting restful sleep, but poor sleep also affects your mental health! It impacts mood regulation, cognitive function, and more! Below I outline tips to improve your sleep using behavioral techniques and easy-to-do lifestyle changes.

    Tips for restful, quality sleep–

    1.     Don’t use devices 1-2 hours prior to sleep. Devices emit blue light which actually stimulates the brain causing your brain to be active and awake.

    2.     Create a relaxing nighttime routine. Doing the same routine each night before bed conditions the brain to start preparing for sleep while you’re completing your relaxing routine. For example, take a hot shower, read 10 pages of a book, and do a 5 minute meditation.

    3.     Use sound therapy, such as white noise, nature sounds, or meditation music. I personally prefer a white noise machine (not the white noise option on a nature sounds machine, but the true white noise machine). It’s calming and helps drown out not only nearby noises, but your thoughts, too!

    4.     Make your sleep environment comfortable! This includes lighting and temperature. A dark, cool room is best.

    5.     Only use your bed for sleep. Doing tasks while in bed, such as working or reading emails, conditions your brain to associate the bed with tasks rather than sleep. The goal is to trigger restful sleep when in your bed, therefore it’s recommended that you do all tasks in another room.

    6.     Don’t watch TV in bed! This goes along with Tip #5, but the TV also emits blue light AND shows/news get you emotionally hooked! You don’t want to activate your emotions right before bed!

    7.     Avoid sugars, alcohol, or eating close to bedtime. These can be stimulating to the brain!

    8.     Don’t have caffeine at least 8 hours prior to bedtime. Instead of that afternoon cup to boost you up, try healthy energy boosting sources like a protein shake or a decaf green tea.

    9.     If can’t sleep, instead of tossing and turning, take a quick walk throughout the house and try reading a book or stretching. You can even do some deep breathing. The goal is to give that unused physical, mental, or emotional energy an outlet. Tossing and turning can cause frustration, anger, and even anxiety.

    10. If you’re struggling with sleeping, don’t look at the clock! This often leads people down a negative thought pattern thus creating more stress. For example, “Ughhhh, its 2am. That means I only have 4 hours before I have to wake up. I’m going to be so tired and probably mess up my presentation at work tomorrow, which will impact my application for promotion…” etc.  Looking at the time can create a vicious thought cycle.

    11. For those of you who lay in bed at night and worry about your to-do list for the next day, overthink about what happened during the day, and or stress about things you cannot do anything about in the middle of the night, I recommended you keep a journal next to your bed and jot down any thoughts to get them out of your head. Getting them out of your head can allow you to rest because you know you won’t forget and you can reference it tomorrow. It’s another way to give the anxious energy an outlet.

    12. If needed, do a trial of melatonin– the right way! Melatonin is a natural way to kick start your brain’s natural sleep cycle, which means you have to follow a routine while taking it. A psychiatrist I worked closely with recommended using Melatonin this way: take 5-10mg each night at the same time for 30 days only, AND go to bed and wake up the same time each day regardless of weekends or holidays.

    As with anything, consistency is key! If you’re not consistent, then it will impact your sleep in a negative way. Remember, these tips are to help you recondition your brain’s natural sleep cycle.

    Sweet Dreams!

    Nicole