- Establish a routine. While you may not be able to maintain the daily schedule you had before the pandemic, you must try to start and end your day at roughly the same time. After waking from sleep, seek natural light and try to maintain regular meal times to help stabilize your circadian rhythm throughout the day and ensure your body regulates sleep in a healthy way.
- Create a comfortable sleep environment. Ideally you should sleep in a quiet, dark and cool room with temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees.
- Adopt a healthy diet. Avoid high-calorie or heavy meals too close to bedtime. Consider a healthy snack, such as cheese and crackers, prior to bedtime if you feel hungry or are prone to waking up due to hunger.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Caffeine can stay in the body for up to eight hours and should ideally be cut off at about 2 pm. Alcohol can make you sleepy initially but wake you up as it is metabolized, and should be avoided within four hours of bedtime.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise not only improves sleep quality and duration, but can also help relieve stress and anxiety.
- Avoid or limit naps. If you must nap, try to limit naps to about 20 minutes and take them earlier in the day. As a rule, do not try to make up for lost sleep following a night of poor sleep.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing your attention to the present moment – without judgement or distraction – and is developed through the practice of meditation. Schedule wind-down time within 30-60 minutes of bedtime by relaxing in a room with dim light and engaging in non-stimulating activity, such as reading a hard copy book or meditating.
- Limit activities in bed. Remember, sleep is for the bed and the bed is for sleep. If sleep is proving too difficult, get out of bed and only return to bed when sleepy. In between, you may engage in relaxing activities that occupy your mind in a pleasant way, but are not too stimulating. Try not to be super-productive in bed, as you may subconsciously reinforce that you’re productive when you wake up at night.
A good night’s rest is a key ingredient in both physical and mental wellbeing.
For more information about sleep medicine and sleep disorders, or to inquire about a sleep study, please call the Tallahassee Memorial Sleep Center at 850-431-4400 or visit TMH.ORG/Sleep.