Coping techniques: Sleep disturbance

Please note that you should always consult with your physician before making any changes in your diet, your level of exercise and activity, medication or behaviors related to substance use.

The best way to make use of these techniques is to read through them, select three that stand out to you and practice them. I would be glad to hear from you on your responses.

  1. Consult with your physician to rule out medical causes for sleep disturbance.
  2. Develop a winding down practice for the end of the evening. Decrease exposure to bright lights—your computer monitor, for instance, or the television—which increase levels of stimulation. Have your last big meal several hours before bed, and if you need to have a snack select something light and easy to digest. Incorporate a warm shower, light yoga or stretches or some form of meditation, such as counting the breaths while facing a blank wall, into your routine. Read something soothing. Listen to quiet music.
  3. Keep your bedroom, or at least your bed, reserved for sleep. Conduct work and leisure activities in other rooms. If possible, don’t have your computer in your bedroom.
  4. If you have difficulty falling or returning to sleep, get out of bed and read in another room, listen to soothing music, have a mug of warm milk or soy milk or take a warm bath. Return to bed when you feel sleepy. Get up at your regular rising time. Remember, even if you don’t get enough sleep tonight it will make it more likely you’ll sleep better tomorrow night.
  5. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Consider using a sleep mask.
  6. If outside noise is an issue, have a source of sound near your bed—white noise, nature sounds, ambient music.
  7. During the day, unless otherwise directed by your physician, access some exposure to direct sunlight. Indoors open the curtains to let light in. At work take breaks outside.
  8. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
  9. Avoid taking naps during the day. If a nap is a must, limit it to 15 minutes.
  10. Get regular exercise, but avoid strenuous activity in the hours before bedtime.