In my previous post, insomnia and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), a non-medication based therapy, for insomnia were discussed. Drawing from the CBT-I approach, here are some behavioural strategies for improving sleep:
1. Establish a regular sleep routine and stick to it, even on the weekends and while on vacation. Sleeping in on the weekends or during vacation can delay sleep onset on Sunday evening as it disrupts our circadian rhythm, a 24 hour biological cycle influenced by light and temperature, which regulates sleeping and eating patterns.
2. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and intimacy only. Refrain from mind activating, and thus sleep incompatible activities in the bedroom such as working, studying, reading, or watching tv.
3. Learn a relaxation strategy or practice meditation to help calm your mind and body in preparation for sleep.
4. Have a wind-down period 1-2 hours before bedtime. This is the time to take a shower or bath, floss and brush your teeth, change into your bed clothes, dim the lights, and unwind from the day's activities.
5. Limit caffeine and have your last cup of coffee or tea by mid-day.
Many factors can set the stage for and maintain insomnia - the ideas above need to be practiced consistently to be of benefit. For more information, consult a health professional familiar with CBT-I.