2 posts tagged “sleep tips”

Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Posted May 25th, 2018 by

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night.

Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals.

Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders

Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help:

  • Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later).
  • Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep
  • Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music
  • Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime
  • Skip the book: “I don’t read in bed (that was a hard habit to break — I LOVE reading in bed),” says one member. Beds should be kept for sex and sleep, not reading, watching TV or looking at your phone.

Make your space suit you

  • Research shows the perfect sleep temps are somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your preference. A room that’s too hot or too cold can keep you up at night.
  • Keeping the room as dark as possible helps. Try black out curtains or an eye mask.
  • Turn that neon alarm clock toward the wall so you don’t know what time it is. Ticking off the minutes can lead to more anxiety about how you’re not sleeping.
  • Some folks swear by white noise machines (with sounds from nature, like frogs or rain). Find the right white noise that works for your, even a fan or air purifier can help.

Long before lights out: Tips to keep in mind throughout your day

It’s not only about what you do right before you hit the hay — see how other actions throughout your day can help (or hurt) your sleep quality at night.

Exercise

Yoga or other types of relaxation exercises, like mindfulness meditation can make falling asleep easier, but some members go for something more rigorous..

  • “Another thing that helps is getting pretty serious exercise (1 hour of heart rate at or above 130, for me at least) five or six days a week,” says a member. “That’s not possible for everyone, but it definitely helps me.”
  • “I made the mistake of going for a run too late in the evening,” says a member. It only served to rev her up. Now she plans exercise well before bedtime.
  • Scheduling your exercise outdoors during the day can help some people. Sunlight helps establish your body’s sleep and wake cycles.

Eating and drinking

Drinking alcohol, which you might think will help put you out, actually has the opposite effect, and after a late night cocktail you can find yourself tossing and turning at 3 a.m.. Here are a few more pointers on food and drink from members

  • One member says skipping caffeine including coffee, tea and chocolate after 12:00 p.m. works best for her.
  • Eating meals at regular times also helps your sleep. “None of this dinner at 10 p.m. stuff, which can keep you up,” says a member.
  • “I know some folks who have had luck with Valerian extract, several drops on a sugar cube,” says another member. (Be sure to check with your doctor before trying Valerian or any other herbal remedy.)

Write it down

  • “When I write by hand in my journal every night, it is easier for me to just ‘word vomit.’ Of course, I can’t read anything I write afterwards, so it’s more an exercise of getting the feelings of the day out so I can go to sleep,” says another member.
  • “Writing is part of my bedtime routine, and includes my ‘gratitudes’ for the day, which I also find helps me wake up with a positive attitude in the morning,” a member explains.
  • You may find it helpful to go one step beyond just setting aside worry time (mentioned above) and writing it down or talking to a friend before settling in for the night.

Interested in joining the conversation about bedtime habits and sleep? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe.

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Getting out of bed: The “One hour rule” and other tips

Posted March 12th, 2018 by

Does getting out of bed in the morning ever seem like an overwhelming task? You’re not alone. PatientsLikeMe members are talking about it a lot in the mental health forum. Read on to learn what’s worked for others on difficult mornings.

Give yourself no more than an hour

Elyse Raffery, contributor to The Mighty, shared her strategy for the “One Hour Rule” to get out of bed on the days she’d rather not move from beneath the covers:

“Within one hour of waking up, I have to be out of my bed. If I look at the clock when I wake up and it is 9 a.m., by 10 a.m., I cannot still be lying in bed. I am a competitive person, and even some gentle competition with my own brain helps me sometimes.”

Louder alarms, brighter lights and more tips from PatientsLikeMe members

Check out these practical morning tips from other members in the forum:

“I got a much louder alarm. I went back to the classic two bell analog alarm clock… so loud that my cat bolts from the room.”

“Now I have a routine where I get up, turn the light on, and listen to the radio for ten minutes. Then I get out of bed. The ‘light’ is a full-spectrum, really bright light. You might find that turning on bright lights when you get up helps. You can put them on timers, too, so that they light up when your alarm goes off.”

“Write down or think about something you are looking forward to on the next morning/day. Motivate yourself to want to get up by planning a special item for breakfast (cinnamon toast) or wearing a certain shirt you like or planning a half hour of your favorite music with headphones for the first ten minutes. Something that will keep your head on straight.”

Some shared wisdom from around the web:

  • Make small goals: “If you can’t do one thing a day, try one thing every two days, or even one thing every week. A slowly fought battle is still one you can win in the end.”
  • Ask for help: “We’re all human, there are times we can all benefit from support.”
  • If you have a pet: “Pets are also something great to turn to, as they rely on you to care for them, which gives you a sense of responsibility each day.”

Try to get enough sleep the night before

Chronic sleep problems — common in many mental health conditions — can often be part of the issue. According to the Harvard Health Newsletter,

  • Sleep problems affect more than 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression
  • In bipolar depression, 23% to 78% of patients report that they have trouble getting out of bed
  • Sleep problems are also common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Here are some strategies for sleeping better (and potentially getting up more easily.) Talk to your doctor about what might work best for you:

  • Exercise can improve sleep, and can help regulate your mood to make mornings easier
  • Maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, or “sleep training” — staying awake longer so that your sleep is more restful
  • Keeping your bedroom cool and dark, and banishing electronics from the bedroom
  • Meditation and guided imagery, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation ─ alternately tensing and relaxing muscles ─ can reduce anxiety that can ruin sleep and make mornings so hard

Have you tried the “One Hour Rule” or something else to help you get out of bed? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe and jump in the conversation.

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