Here’s a summary of the most important aspects of the program and a few mood-enhancing exercises:
Sleep Guidelines and Factors
- Get up at the same time every day.
- Only go to bed when you feel sleepy, but not before the time suggested by your assigned sleep window.
- Use the bed for sleep only.
- Get out of bed if you can’t sleep.
- Don’t worry, plan, etc. in bed.
- Make sure your bedroom environment is promoting sleep.
- Limit your use of caffeine and alcohol.
- Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime.
- Take two hours before bed to wind down by focusing on relaxing activities.
- Be aware of your stress level and do your best to address stress when you can.
- Focus on balance in your life. Make time for things other than work (i.e. hobbies, social activities, relaxation, exercise, family time).
Relaxation and Mindfulness
- Remember that worry/stress/frustration is the biggest modern day threat to our sleep.
- Use mindfulness or relaxation techniques when you have difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- There are many different mindfulness and relaxation techniques, look for one to try and keep consistent for a week or two. If you like it, stick with it, if you don’t, then try a new one. Repeat this process until you find a practice that suits you. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at this list of the top meditation apps available, which includes paid and free options.
Changing Your Thinking
- Be aware of the thoughts you have about your sleep and the emotions these thoughts produce.
- Identify if they are helping you reach your goals or making it more difficult.
- Analyze if these thoughts are the literal truth or if there may be another way to look at the situation.
- Identify alternative thoughts that support your work.
Consistency is key when working on improving your sleep. It is usually not one specific factor that makes the difference, but a combination of changes in behavior, thoughts, and environment working together.
A gratitude journal and meditation are other tools that can help with creating a positive transition to sleep at night. Before bed, spend time either writing in a journal or closing your eyes and focusing on things that you are grateful for. Pick three things each night. They could be the same as the night before or different. They can be as big as feeling grateful for life itself or as little as appreciating the bowl of ice cream you had this evening. They can be experiences, people, things…anything that makes sense to you. Take this time to reflect on what brings you gratitude or happiness.
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