Have you ever seen a small child who is having a melt down of volcanic proportions because they’re fighting sleep? You know they need a nap. I know they need a nap. The neighbors three doors down know they need a nap, but that kid will fight sleep tooth and nail, because…

Well, why DO they refuse to go down for a nap, or fight going to bed at bedtime? Well, in my opinion, it’s probably because they simply don’t have the faintest idea just how exhausted they WILL be when adulthood hits.

Then again, we all know adults who say things like, “sleep is SUCH a waste of time. I could be getting SO much done if I didn’t have to sleep” or “eh, I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”

I, on the other hand, have always thought that nap time is wasted on the young. To quote one of the many cutesy memes on Pinterest, “I’m a person who wants to do a lot of things trapped in the body of someone who wants to sleep a lot.” Fun fact: even my initials spell NAP.

So which camp do you belong to? Do you hate “wasting” precious hours on something as “unproductive” as sleep, or do you constantly wish you had more and/or more restful sleep? Leave a comment below to let me know!

Either way, the importance of getting enough good quality sleep has gained mainstream attention as a health issue and become quite a lucrative aspect of the self-care movement to tap into. From specialized mattresses and pillows, supplements, bedtime yoga routines, sleep-inducing soundscapes, and blackout curtains for your bedroom to fitness tracker apps to help you practice better sleep habits, good sleep hygiene has become a regular topic of conversation among those who are trying to take better care of themselves.

Healthy Sleep Habits To Improve Sleep

So, what is sleep hygiene anyway? It’s essentially a general term to describe a combination of habits, routines and things you can do to maximize your likelihood of getting consistent, deep, restorative sleep.

Healthy sleep hygiene habits:

  • Watching your caffeine intake, and abstaining from caffeine for at least 4-6 hours before your bedtime
  • Keeping a consistent bedtime and wake-up time
  • Stopping screen time an hour before bed (yes, that means not scrolling through the headlines or binge watching your favorite shows right before you turn out the lights).

Sleep Hygiene Blog Post

The bottom line is, sleep is not only essential to survival, but also an investment in your well-being. Your mental health, physical health, ability to think clearly and be productive and your ability to function your best demands good sleep. Your well-being is worth the effort of making the lifestyle changes that may help you get better sleep.

Well, what if you want to sleep, but you can’t?

Or you can fall asleep, but you wake up too early or too often and can’t get back to sleep. No, the answer is not a nightcap – alcohol may make you drowsy enough to fall asleep, but it interferes with your ability to get the deep sleep that your body needs. Some of us are having trouble sleeping because of known health conditions, chronic pain, or possible sleep disorders.

If you are not letting your doctor know about sleep problems, it may be time to do so. They may recommend tests to identify the problem so you can work on getting some relief. Considering all that is going on in the world, many of us are having trouble sleeping due to stress, anxiety, and depression. If that’s you, consider meeting with a medical or mental health provider to determine if you would benefit from therapy, medication, or some other kind of support or lifestyle change.

Related Blog Post: How Therapists Manage Their Own Anxiety

Burning the candle at both ends just leaves you with a burned-out mess of ash and wax; it’s no badge of honor. We invest time and energy in what we value; maybe it’s time you valued yourself enough to invest in getting the sleep you need and deserve.