If you are not getting enough sleep or you want to getter a better sleep try this:

Create a routine: telling your body and your mind that it is time to let go of your day and get some rest is very important. In our fast-paced world we do not have built-in signals to let our bodies and our minds know it is time to rest and rejuvenate for the next day. Most people have to build this into their lives.

Things to start doing 90-60 minutes before bed:

  1. Turn bright lights off: dim lights.
  2. Get off all electronics. (Yes that means no TV, texting, Facebooking, etc.) Just unplug!
  3. Stop dealing with anything stressful. No work and no difficult conversations.
  4. Turn off energetic music.
  5. Stop drinking anything caffeinated at least two hours earlier than you already do.
  6. Reduce your alcohol consumption.
  7. Put on some relaxing music.
  8. Learn and do a meditation.
  9. Take a bath or shower. This is a good transition of washing away your day and water is almost always associated with relaxation.
  10. Make a cup of non-caffeinated tea or warm milk.
  11. Write down your thoughts, anything you need to process or let go of. Write a list of things that are on your plate for tomorrow.
  12. Spend some time connecting either with those you live with or a friend or family member over the phone.

If you are waking up during the night and having trouble falling back asleep:

  1. Keep a night light by your bed and use that to go to the washroom. As soon as you turn on an overhead light you are sending a strong signal to your body to wake up. If you do not need a light at all even better!
  2. If you are reading in the middle of the night, make sure you are not using a back-lit e-reader.
  3. If you are waking up worrying about things, or get stuck in repetitive thinking, keep a journal in a box beside your bed. When you wake up, take it out and write down all your thoughts for 10 minutes. Then pack it away and make an agreement with yourself to deal with these problems/worries in the morning. You may need to train your mind about appropriate worry time. It is very important to make sure you do spend some of your waking time thinking about these problems, or else your thoughts will take over when you have some quiet time. You may really have a real problem that needs your time and attention to solve, so make sure you give it some thought when your brain is actually most awake!

Your sleep is important as it has such a huge impact over your sense of well-being. Make sleep a priority. If there are underlying issues that are causing disruption in your sleep, then give yourself the gift of taking your problems seriously and get some support. You deserve to feel your best and be your best.

This is the first part of a two-part series on healthy sleep.
Part 2: Understanding Your Sleep Pattern is the First Step to Feeling Better

Laura Bradley
Clinical Director & Counsellor at Steadfast Counselling | Website | + posts

Laura is a Master Therapeutic Counsellor and a Registered Counselling Supervisor (MTC,RCS,#2022) with the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada (ACCT). She is also a Certified Group Facilitator.

View Laura's biography and counselling schedule.