Getting a good night’s sleep is important for good mental health.
Everything from daily stress to mental health disorders can cause difficulty sleeping. We might ruminate over worries at night, or feel like our bodies just won’t shut down. I often hear these complaints from clients, and we start by designing a healthy sleep routine. Here are a few tips:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time:
Our brains establish a pattern known as a circadian rhythm. This is your body’s natural clock that signals when to initiate sleep. If our schedules constantly change, our brains don’t figure out the pattern, and your clock can’t function.
Establish a calming nighttime routine:
Help your body gently transition into bedtime. Reading a comforting book, taking a warm shower, doing meditation, or coloring work well.
Give yourself a “screen curfew:”
This is difficult in today’s world, and I also struggle with putting my phone down (…just one more Fiona video!). However, it’s important to avoid screens at night. The light emitted by phones, TVs, and computers mimics sunlight, tricking your body into thinking it’s daytime. It is recommended to avoid screens for 30 minute before bedtime.
Learn relaxation techniques:
Techniques such as paired muscle relaxation or deep breathing can help with those late-night insomnia battles. Many therapists teach their clients these strategies, but there are also ways to learn them on your own. Some free apps include “Breathe” and “Calm,” and Kaiser Permanente offers free relaxation podcasts on their website (just minimize time looking at the screen).
Listen to yourself:
See if you notice any patterns or themes in your sleep difficulties. Do your sleepless nights come before certain events? Are there distressing emotions or memories coming up? In the calm space at the end of the day, our minds offer important information about what we may need. Listen to this wisdom, and reach out for support from a friend or therapist if needed.
Talk to a Health Professional:
If you continue to struggle with sleep, additional strategies may be helpful. Talk with your healthcare provider – he or she can determine if you would benefit from medication or being screened for a Sleep Disorder. Therapists can support you in designing a healthy sleep routine and sticking with it. A good night’s sleep is a dream that can be a reality!
Rose Kormanyos is an Independent Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Cincinnati. She specializes in working with trauma survivors and couples. She is currently accepting new clients and can be reached at 513-306-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.