Sleep Hygiene 101


Are you getting enough sleep? If you’re like most Americans—you aren’t! Sleep is a vital function for any living animal, including humans, and it plays an important role in thinking, regulating mood, maintaining immunity to disease, and generally feeling your best. No matter how important sleep is, however, many people do not get the recommended amount of sleep needed to feel their best. That’s why, when Dr. Lazarus, who provides counseling in Highlands Ranch for couples therapy, often asks about the sleep patterns of the adults and the children in the house. Your sleep is so important for your health that you should think about it as well!

  • Here are some signs that you are not getting enough sleep:
  • You view your alarm clock as your enemy
  • You struggle to wake up and feel confused or foggy
  • You find yourself dozing off at work, school, or while driving
  • You get sick more than you used to
  • You are getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night (although some people need up to ten hours of sleep to feel their best)
  • You sleep in on weekends
  • You fall asleep in the evenings while reading or watching TV
  • You feel irritable or argue with your partner more often

If any of these apply to you, you may be suffering from sleep deprivation. For some, getting enough sleep is as simple as setting a “bedtime” for yourself—yes, even adults can benefit from bedtime! But for others, bedtime is a dread period of staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning, and wondering why you’re still awake. To practice good sleep hygiene, try these top tips:

Stick to a routine—every day. As much as sleeping in on weekends is a popular idea and practice, this throws your body off. Find a reasonable time to go to sleep and wake up, and stick to it!

Cool your sleeping area. We sleep best in cooler spaces, so turn down the heat, crank up the AC, or turn on a fan. Still chilly? Try a warm blanket or warm pair of socks.

Develop a calming routine. We need to “wind down” before we sleep—so start with a calming bedtime routine. This may involve taking a soothing bath, listening to calming music, reading quietly, or convincing a partner to give you a massage. Keep noise to a minimum. Whatever helps you relax, make it a routine, and then your body will follow.

Switch off the screens. Electronic light messes with your body’s natural rhythms. For at least an hour before bed, avoid TVs, computers, phones, tablets, and so on. Boring? Perfect for sleeping!

Remember, sleep deprivation can make you less efficient, more moody, and more likely to get sick. If you experience severe sleep problems, snore excessively, or stop breathing at night, contact your physician. If you would like to find out more about proper sleep hygiene, consider setting up an appointment with a therapist in Lone Tree. Dr. Lazarus can help you to build a healthy sleep schedule and other healthy patterns for the fullest in life!