Sleep better, live better.
By Benjamin Tudor, LMFT
"Improving the way you approach sleep is essential for unlocking a more productive, more inspired, more fulfilling life."
In my work as a therapist, I am always looking for throughlines in clients’ lives that can help them tackle issues and achieve better overall health. Oftentimes, there are one or two core behaviors that a person can tweak to improve their life in multiple areas. One such behavior is improving your sleep habits. Improving the way you approach sleep is essential for unlocking a more productive, more inspired, more fulfilling life.
One change, multiple benefits
Reduce brain fog - Better sleep can sharpen memory, focus, and information absorption and retrieval.
Achieve your goals - Want to read more? Build reading into an earlier bedtime. Want to introduce more mindfulness or meditation into your life? Use breathing or body scan techniques to get yourself to sleep and/or use an earlier rise time to meditate or practice yoga in the morning.
Physical fitness - Getting better sleep will give you more energy to get a workout in…maybe working out makes you want to eat better so the workout isn’t wasted. Exercise and a better diet will make you sleep better, and that beautiful cycle rolls on.
Work-life balance - Getting to bed earlier, then waking up earlier, allows you some time of your own in the morning before the world demands anything of you. This can help you peacefully enter your day instead of waking up and feeling the pressure to jump right into it.
Mental health - Sleep facilitates the processing of thoughts, memories, and emotional information. Research shows that a lack of sleep affects the consolidation of positive memories, thus affecting mood. Poor sleep patterns have been shown to cause or exacerbate presenting symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder.
How to create a healthy bedtime routine that works for you
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. Not 7-9 to hours in bed, but real sleep. What time do you need to wake up? Subtract from there. Assume your wind-down routine will take at least an hour.
Lessen screen time at least 1 hour before bedtime. Blue light exposure from screens depress the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy.
Create a soothing sleep environment. Low lights, low sound, no screens, comfortable temperature, sensory soothing (calming scents, calming sounds, comfortable bedding)
Develop a routine- shower or bath, reading, listening to calming music
Attempt to get to bed at a similar time each night.
Recognize in the morning how much better you feel with proper sleep- use this feeling to create the feedback loop.