Following a Sleep Hygiene Checklist to Beat Insomnia

Sleep disturbances are a growing problem in America, with insomnia being the most common. However, creating and following a regular sleep hygiene checklist is one way to promote healthy sleep habits for a better quality of life–along with professional therapy and/or other lifestyle changes.

Let’s find out why.

How Many People Suffer from Insomnia?

According to reports, up to 35% have brief insomnia symptoms, and up to 20% have short-term insomnia that can last up to three months. In addition, 10% of Americans have chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times a week for three months or more.

Research shows women are at higher risk of developing insomnia than men, with pregnancy and pre-menstrual syndrome increasing a woman’s likelihood. The consequences of insomnia and sleep disturbances can include drowsy driving, lower productivity or increased accidents and errors at work, and mental illness. Specifically, 40% of those with insomnia have a mental health disorder, including 75% of people with depression and 90% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder where you experience problems falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia can be acute or chronic, meaning it can be short-term or long-term. Some people may have insomnia symptoms one time during the month. For others, they may experience insomnia three to four times a week. In either case, sleep deprivation occurs that can have a negative impact on how you function.

What Causes Insomnia?

If you experience any of the following, you are not getting quality sleep and may experience insomnia:

  • Waking up throughout the night
  • Tossing and turning to find a comfortable position
  • Being unable to fall asleep soon after you get in bed
  • Being interrupted by sounds, lights, or other distractions
  • Going to bed at different times each night
  • Working various shifts at work
  • Misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Living with untreated mental health or physical health disorders
  • Taking medications at the wrong time of day
  • Drinking caffeine near bedtime
  • Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out much of the day

What Is The Cure for Insomnia?

You are probably wondering what you can do to treat or avoid insomnia. Let’s start with the things to avoid trying, including misusing alcohol or drugs, over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills, and taking stimulants of any kind before bedtime. Also, don’t pressure yourself or beat yourself up for not getting quality sleep.

While there is no one-size-fits-all cure, there is a solution to improve symptoms. That is to create and follow a sleep hygiene checklist.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene refers to the environments and routines you create that help you sleep. Like everything else, you can have good and bad sleep hygiene. Signs of poor sleep hygiene include the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Clumsiness
  • Digestive problems
  • Poor eating habits
  • Weight gain
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Grogginess

The longer you have poor sleep hygiene, the symptoms can become chronic. Examples of chronic symptoms include:

  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression
  • Injuries to yourself or others
  • Short and long-term memory loss
  • Weakening immune system
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Low sex drive
  • Poor balance

Sleep hygiene involves all the ways you take care of yourself before and after sleep. They are the actions you take that contribute to a healthy circadian rhythm.

What is a Circadian Rhythm?

Your body operates on a 24-hour cycle, an internal clock known as the circadian rhythm. It is responsible for your sleep-wake patterns. At different times during the 24 hours, your body automatically performs certain functions that prepare your body for upcoming changes in activity. Your daily habits set your internal clock.

Suppose you wake up every morning Monday through Friday at 6:00 am to prepare for work. You want to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday, but your body automatically wakes up at 6:00 am. You can’t sleep in on the weekend because of your circadian rhythm.

If your circadian rhythm is out of balance, you can experience sleep deprivation from conditions like insomnia and the many consequences. Sleep hygiene can help you reset your circadian rhythm and help you reap the benefits of quality sleep.

How to Create a Sleep Hygiene Checklist

Every person has unique sleep hygiene. The steps you take to create your sleep hygiene checklists may be different from your family and friends. Below are suggestions on creating routines and enhancing your environment to overcome insomnia.

  • Wake up at the same time every day
  • Spend time in the sun to absorb the benefits of sunlight
  • Exercise early in the day but not before bedtime since it can be energizing
  • Stop drinking caffeine at least four to five hours before bedtime since that is how long it can take to metabolize
  • Avoid eating right before bed so you don’t experience heartburn or digestive problems that can keep you awake
  • Don’t eat or work while in bed to avoid your brain associating those activities with bedtime. Train your brain to associate the bed with sleep.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, or misusing substances due to their stimulating effects. Drugs and alcohol boost dopamine and other feel-good chemicals in the brain, giving you energy.
  • Design your bedroom for optimal sleep

The Bedroom Environment

When you enter your bedroom and your bed, your brain should be triggered that you are about to feel relaxed and comfortable. Aim to prepare a bedroom environment that reflects quality sleep. When it’s time for bed, your room should be quiet, dark, and have a satisfying temperature. Your bed should have a comfortable mattress, pillow, sheets, blankets, etc. You can add calming essential oils to the environment or lightly spray them on your pillow.

Turn off digital devices an hour before you go to bed, including televisions, smartphones, computers, and tablets. You can listen to soothing music or read a book. Small things like brushing your teeth and bathing should be done at the same time each day or night.

Relaxation Techniques for Sleep Hygiene

Throughout your day, and definitely before bedtime, practice relaxation techniques for insomnia. Try deep breathing, meditation, simple yoga poses, guided imagery, or download an app for relaxation.

Adding more self-care activities to your schedule will enable quality sleep and eliminate insomnia for good.

Get Treatment for Insomnia in Los Angeles

If you or your loved one has insomnia, reach out to us or book an appointment. For more information about insomnia treatment options and therapy, visit Mental Health Center online.