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Trouble getting to sleep? Have you checked you sleep hygiene lately?

August 26, 2019

Jessie Danuser- Osteopath

Sleep hygiene is the phrase used to describe our sleep habits and practices. Having good bed time routines can drastically change the quality of your sleep.

Sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness can be signs of poor sleep hygiene. A few simple changes could make a big difference to your sleep quality and send you off to the land of nod easier.

First things first; your sleeping environment.
● Try keeping your bedroom on the cooler side, around 18 degrees Celsius.
● Your bed isn’t your office; Make your bed and bedroom as much associated with sleep as possible. Don’t work on your laptop, eat, play video games while in bed or your body won’t make the connection to sleep when you’re there, instead it will connect with it being time for activities.
● Exposure to daylight is important for your body clock, just as making sure your room is dark enough for sleep; use block out blinds, or an eye mask if you need.
● Comfort is key; make sure your mattress and pillows are suitable and comfortable. Perhaps a mattress topper could give your tired mattress a new lease of life if its not the right time to invest in a new one.

Other things to consider;
● Screen time; Light from screens can affect production of a key sleep chemical melatonin, so switch off your laptop and stop scrolling your phone at least half an hour before bedtime. If you absolutely must look at your phone before bed, get the F.lux app. It’s an app you install on your smartphone or laptop that filters the light emanating from your device so that in the morning it is blue/black predominant and in the evening it is red predominant. The new iPhone software even has it built in!
● Avoid alcohol in the evening; it might make you sleepier and get you off to sleep sooner, but the quality of sleep can be affected, leaving your feeling unrefreshed in the morning.
● Wind down time; establish a regular routine. Getting your body and mind in the zone for sleep rather than rushing round right up to the time you head hits the pillow may help you drop off to sleep quicker. Perhaps a warm shower, a cup of herbal tea (avoid caffeinated drinks), or reading a book might help wind things down.
● Try not to ‘clock watch’. This will only make things worse. Turn your clock’s face away from you.

If you are often kept awake by worry, try these steps:
● Write down the worries or problems that are on your mind. Telling yourself to stop worrying is often unsuccessful.
● Write down the next step you think you could take towards sorting out the problem, then leave it until the morning. If you wake up during the night worrying about the problem, remind yourself that you have the matter in hand, and that going over it now will not help.
● If a new worry crops up in the night, write it down and deal with it the next day.
● Practice your relaxation techniques. Or try focusing on a pleasant memory or imagining a nice holiday.
● If these steps are not helping within 20 minutes, it may be better to get up for a while and do something relaxing. This could include reading, listening to music, practicing your relaxation technique. When you are ready, return to bed and try again. After a while, if you still find yourself lying there feeling restless, get up again and repeat the same types of activities.

As well as osteopaths helping with the hands on musculoskeletal aspect, there is often advice and tools that may further benefit you outside the treatment room. Come see how we can help you at Procare.

Please note, the advice above is generalised and may not be specific to your situation. If in doubt please contact one of our osteopaths or another health care provider to provide a specific diagnosis and treatment of your condition.