20 tips for getting a good night's sleep
When my patients come in to talk about depression, anxiety, and why they can't lose weight, I always ask about sleep habits. I see so many people underestimate just how important a good night's sleep is. Not getting good quality sleep every night does catch up with you eventually. If you are chronically sleep-deprived, you will feel tired all the time, you won't have the energy to exercise or eat healthy and that cycle will just continue.
Here's my personal recommendations for a good night's sleep..
1. Go to bed at same time every night. Give yourself at least 8 hours before you need to wake up in the morning.
2. Have a bedtime routine (brush teeth, skincare, read, yoga, whatever works for you)
3. Get the TV out of your bedroom. It just keeps you awake.
4. No blue screens (cell phone, computer, iPad, TV) 2 hours before bed. Blue screens decrease our melatonin levels and prevent us from falling asleep easily.
5. Seriously no cell phone. Put your phone on "Do not disturb". Oh I LOVE this function. Mine is set for 10pm - 7am every night.
6. No caffeine after 2pm. Its stimulant effects can last for hours.
7. No alcohol right before bed. Maybe a glass of wine with dinner is OK, maybe not for you. Drinking alcohol right before bed can affect your sleep quality, even if you don't need to get up to pee.
8. Do not eat or drink anything within 2 hours before bed. You don't need heartburn, upset stomach or to have to get up to use the bathroom.
9. Keep room quiet or get a sound machine to drown out noises if needed
10. Keep room cool, get a fan if needed. Cozy blankets nearby, of course.
11. Keep room dark. Unplug anything you can or cover anything that shines a light.
12. Get a better pillow, mattress, sheets if needed
13. Try a weighted blanket - I absolutely love mine - like a hug all night. (Too hot in the summer but I love it all winter long.)
14. Try a lavender scent or any scent that appeals to you. You can spray it on blankets, pillow, etc. It's just another cue for your body that it's time for sleep.
15. Exercise during the day. It will absolutely help you sleep better at night. Even just a daily walk will do.
16. Reading before bed is just fine and can be a nice habit to get into. (Kindle is OK - it's not a blue screen.)
17. Try a meditation or a sleep app
18. Lose weight if you need to.
19. Go see a doctor if:
you're overweight, if you snore, or if you suspect you're just not sleeping as well as you should to get evaluated for sleep apnea
you're having night sweats. If you're in menopause, HRT can help. If you're not in menopause, you shouldn't be having night sweats and you need an evaluation.
you have to get up to pee every night. You may have an overactive bladder, which can be treated.
20. Medication should only be taken when absolutely necessary. I would not recommend you take a pill to help you sleep unless you haven't slept well in 3 nights, or if you're sick with a bad cold, or going through a very stressful time. You should not take a sleeping pill if you have any medical issues that need to be addressed first. Pills that help you sleep can linger well into the next day and make you feel groggy, which then just becomes its own cycle.
I know 20 tips seems excessive, but the point is there are some small but significant changes you could make that can have a huge impact. Try whatever will work for you, get some quality sleep and feel better.