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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Beattie

From Counting Sheep to Catching Zzzzzzzz’s: How OTs can help you achieve your best night sleep!

It’s 3 in the afternoon and your eyes are heavy, you feel exhausted! But then bedtime rolls around and you’re wide eyed and stare at the clock for hours as you think about how much time is left until you’re alarm is going to go off in the morning. After hitting snooze to get a few extra minutes, you wake up already tired and planning out how you’ll get to bed earlier tonight, even though thats what you tried to do yesterday and the day before…

What if there were simple things you could do in your day to change the quality of your sleep at night, and make that 3pm need for a snooze go away!

It’s called: Good Sleep Hygiene!

You know what hygiene means (hopefully…) but have you ever heard of the term ‘Sleep Hygiene’?

Sleep hygiene is a term we use to talk about sleeping habits. Our sleeping habits are the practices we do throughout our day and night that influence our sleep outcomes. When it comes to cleanliness, there is good hygiene and poor hygiene practices - similarly, there are good sleep hygiene practices and there are poor ones!

What does good sleep hygiene look like?

Sleep hygiene = your daily habits + your environment.

A good first step to achieving good sleep hygiene is ensuring you have a comfortable and calm environment to rest your head.

  • Dim lighting

  • Low noise levels and minimal distractions

  • Comfortable temperature levels (some sleep better in cooler temperatures)

  • And of course a mattress and pillow that suits you best!

Simple daily habits to try implementing!

  • DO go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day.

  • DO get outside during the day time - especially when the sun is out!

  • DO calm and quiet activities to help your body wind down 30 minutes before bed - ie: stretching, meditation, quiet music, reading.

  • DO exercise during the day time - helps us sleep better at night and stay energized during the day!

  • DON’T exercise right before bedtime, refrain from doing strenuous activity at least 1 hour before.

  • DON’T watch the clock! Checking the time in the night causes anxiousness about not sleeping, which in turn increases your heart rate, making you more awake!

  • DON’T have caffeine at least 6 hours before bed.

  • DON’T look at any screens (phone, TV, laptop) within ~30 minutes before bed (we know this one can be tough, but give it a try!!)

Try adopting some of the above habits into your daily routine, and wash away the poor habits! For more information on good sleep hygiene practices that could help you get a better sleep, you can check out OR try some strategies using your smartphone with the APP: CBTi-coach.

Why is sleep important?

Did you know that sleep impacts both our physical and mental health in various ways? A bad sleep can cause low mood and make us irritable, while also making it difficult to focus and remember things. Additionally, poor sleep quality has been shown to weaken the immune system. Sleep allows our bodies to rest and repair; restoring energy and regenerating cells that support healthy brain and organ function. Having poor sleep habits could cause significant detriments to our health and overall wellbeing!

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Is an OT going to tuck you in at night? No. But they can educate you on the benefits of sleep, help you identify how your sleep habits may be impacting your daily functioning, and provide suggestions that fit with your environment, routines, and goals. An OT can help you to develop and implement simple practices into your daily routine that will promote improved sleep quality, and ultimately help you achieve greater energy levels that allow you to last beyond 3pm!

What's next?

Think your sleeping habits could use a clean up!? If you’re experiencing sleep challenges and want to learn more about what may be the cause and receive recommendations that could work for you - connect with us to see how one of our Occupational Therapists can help you to improve your sleep hygiene!

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