Almost 50% of adults report occasional sleep problems and 1 in 10 experiences ongoing, chronic insomnia that can sometimes last for years (1). Insomnia can develop for a variety of reasons. The good news is, with the support of an insomnia therapist, you can learn techniques to get a better night’s sleep.
As sleep science has evolved, the emphasis has shifted from sleeping longer to sleeping better and more consistently. So much of your sleep relies on habits and environmental factors that you can control. Here are some tips for how to set your bedroom up for a restful night’s sleep.
No Clocks in Sight (and that includes phones)
It’s important to keep clocks out of sight in the bedroom. This is not about screens, as many people might assume. It’s about not being able to see the time so you aren’t tempted to start counting the hours until you wake up. This is fuel for insomnia and anxiety about not getting enough sleep. If you set an alarm on your phone, keep it out of reach. If you have an alarm clock, cover it up. You will wake up on time and you don’t actually need to know what time it is.
Cool & Dark
In order to sleep, your core body temperature decreases to help initiate rest. This is why it’s so hard to sleep when you’re overheated. Having a cool temperature in your bedroom helps with falling and staying asleep.
Also, make sure your room is dark. We want your brain to register that it’s nighttime and the absence of light signals to the brain that it’s time for sleep. Too much light can interfere with the sleep-wake cycle. So keep your room as dark as possible, but make sure to get light first thing in the morning. This can help you to feel more awake at the appropriate times.
Keep work, screens, and other distractions away from the bed – practice using your bed only for sleep. This means no reading, watching TV, or looking at your phone in bed. You can do those things until bedtime, but not in bed. Keep your bed a sacred space for sleep (and intimate activities).
If you don’t have another area in your home that will work, you can set up a corner in your bedroom for quiet activities if you can’t sleep. You can also go to another room if this is possible in your home. Avoid anything near your bed that will trigger too much thinking. Remember, the bed is only for sleep.
Finally, try to reduce sound. Do your best to keep the bedroom as quiet as possible. If needed, invest in a sound machine or earplugs to help minimize noise disruptions.
You may be having a more difficult time with your sleep since COVID-19 started. You may be feeling more stress and anxiety and you notice your sleep has changed. Now is the time to start practicing good habits to help you improve your sleep. Insomnia treatment can be done in the comfort of your own home. If you are ready to take control of your sleep, contact us or call 202-656-3376 for a free consultation.