10 tips for a good night’s sleep

Ten tips for sleep

Learn about things you can do and things you shouldn’t do to improve your sleep and well-being.

  1. Avoid stimulants like caffeine past noon.
  2. Avoid taking naps – but if you must, take a short nap early in the day.
  3. Give yourself time to unwind. Don’t go straight to bed after completing a physically or emotionally draining task.
  4. Keep a sleep diary to determine how many hours of sleep you actually need each night – not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep.
  5. Set a routine bedtime and wake up time – if you need 7 hours of sleep, go to bed 7 hours before you need to wake up.
  6. Keep the bedroom for sleeping – don’t watch TV or scroll on your phone. If you aren’t asleep within 20 minutes, go to another room and read something boring, meditate, or practice mindful breathing.
  7. Try this simple 4-4-4 breathing exercise: Inhale through your nose to a mental count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of 4. Repeat.
  8. Quiet your mind – listen to something soothing like white noise or a calming podcast. There is a variety of relaxing YouTube videos featuring things like rainfalls and ocean waves.
  9. Quiet your body – close your eyes and focus on relaxing each muscle group for 3-6 seconds. Start at your toes, knees, thighs, glutes, abdomen, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, and forehead. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth the whole time.
  10. Distract your brain with another train of thought. For example: choose a short word (e.g., bench). For each letter, come up with five words that start with that letter (e.g., 5 b words, then 5 e words, and so on). Repeat until you fall asleep.

Source: Sleepwell, which is led by Dr. David Gardner and Andrea Murphy. Dr. Gardner is a Pharmacist and Professor with the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University in Halifax. To learn more, visit mysleepwell.ca

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