Sleep Hygiene and Why We Need It
When I ask my clients about their morning routine, the majority of folks respond with some variation of waking up and having a cup of coffee or tea and scrolling through their social media feed. More ambitious folks include activities like stretching, meditating, or a workout. Even people that share they don’t have any wake up routine talk about the potential benefits of adding one. As a society, we accept and value the idea of waking up and getting our minds and bodies started so we can be engaged and productive in our lives. What we often don’t value or minimize is the importance of slowing down and giving the mind and body a chance to get ready for sleep. Sometimes we might even go as far as to say that sleep is unproductive or takes away time we could use towards something else (insert critical discourse on the cultural impacts of neoliberal capitalism).
For some people, it’s a choice and for many others, the necessity of working to meet our everyday needs leaves very little time to ourselves. I would say for almost everyone, sleep hygiene (or I sometimes refer to it as sleep care routine) is worth putting the energy into. The mental and physical benefits of good quality of sleep far outweigh the ramifications of limiting or forgoing a regular and restorative sleep experience. What I stress to my clients is that a good night’s sleep can often to more for their overall well-being than a 50minute talk therapy session with me (I’m good but not that good). Sleep hygiene is something that can be tailored to the individual’s needs, given their situation. It can be several hours long to 30 minutes. As a mental health counselor, I collaborate with my clients to find a sleep care routine that works for them. This can be an iterative process to find the right routine for the individual but clients often report back feeling the benefits of this within a few weeks.
Right now as a global community we are going through several existential crises. It’s no surprise that these big life challenges are going to weigh on us. As a mental health counselor, I tell my clients that it’s perfectly normal right now to have more trouble with sleep. As a person who typically does not have that much trouble with sleep, I’m finding myself struggling with letting go of stress and waking up during the night. All this is to say that sleep care is more important now than ever before. It may not solve all your sleep challenges but I’m hopeful it can ease them. We need our minds and bodies to have time to restore so we can engage in our lives and society to put energy into creating a safer and more loving world.
Here are some tips to get you started: