Many factors may contribute to poor sleep quality; therefore, it is important to obtain a full medical evaluation to rule out other causes of insomnia such as sleep apnea, allergies, and asthma. Insomnia, classified as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early, is one of the most common medical complaints in which roughly one in three people experience in their lifetime. Chronic insomnia has been linked to poor quality of life, increased distress, reductions in daytime functioning, and even to increases in blood pressure.
Although your health-care provider may recommend medications that can help with improving sleep quality, there are a few things that you can also do at home to help increase your sleep:
- Sleep Restriction – Don’t oversleep. Limit your time in bed to your recommended total sleep hours needed. This may increase your sleep drive and stabilize your “internal clock.”
- Stimulus Control – Your bed is sacred. Utilizing the bed for only sleep or sexual activity can promote your brain’s association with bed and sleep.
- Cognitive Therapy – You’re overthinking it. Maintain reasonable expectations about how many hours you need and challenge preconceptions about what happens when not sleeping enough may help to reduce anxiety. Thinking about how hard it is to fall asleep at night can make it harder to sleep!
- Relaxation Therapy – Ommm. Practice meditation and breathing exercises to help reduce physical and psychological stressors in the sleep environment.
- Sleep Hygiene – A little sleep maintenance. Try to limit caffeine and alcohol and avoid daytime napping. Routine exercise and removing the television from the bedroom are all things that can help to set you up for success.
Your mobile devices and blue light
Unfortunately, smart devices and televisions also produce blue light which interferes with our natural production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. However, if one of your nightly rituals is to read on your phone or tablet before bed, you can utilize blue light filters (sometimes pre-programmed into your devices) to reduce your exposure to blue light in the evening.
Don’t forget that your personal electronic devices and fitness devices can also be used to track your sleep to see how many hours you’re getting!