There are many different reasons that people experience problems with sleep. Sleep disturbance can be the result of anxiety, stress or physical problems/conditions. If you are experiencing a sleep disturbance, it might be helpful to consult with the SHC or your primary care provider. If you believe that stress or anxiety is the cause of your sleep problems, it might be helpful to consult a Psychologist.
Overall, we have a tendency to not make sleep a priority based on our busy schedules and a belief that we can make it up later. Think of sleep as #1 on your "to-do list." Do not make it the only thing you do only after everything else is done – stop other things so you get the sleep you need.
What Can Be Done
Basic Strategies for Better Sleep
Get up at about the same time every day (weekends too!), even on a morning after you have lost sleep. Sleeping late for just a couple of days can reset your body clock to a different cycle – you will be getting tired later and waking up later.
Set Your Body Clock
Light helps restart your body clock to its active daytime phase. So when you get up, get some sunlight in your room. If that's not possible, turn on all the lights in your room and walk around for a few minutes.
Keep physically active during the day. This is especially important the day after a bad night's sleep because when you sleep less, you should be more active during the day. Studies have shown that strenuous exercise (brisk walking, swimming, jogging, squash, etc.) in the late afternoon may promote more restful sleep.
Take a Nap
It's true: 20-30 minute naps have been shown to be beneficial as a supplement to getting your 7-9 hours of sleep. Naps can boost energy and help increase memory. If you find that you are unable to wake up after 20-30 minutes, it could be a sign that you are not getting enough nighttime sleep.
Develop a Bedtime Routine
Stop studying and don't get into any stimulating discussions or activities a half hour or hour before bed. Do something that's relaxing instead.
List To Do's
Keep a pad and pencil handy. If you think of something you want to remember, jot it down. Then let the thought go.
Stretch and Relaxation:
Some people find that a gentle stretching routine for several minutes just before getting into bed helps induce sleep, while others practice relaxation techniques.
Avoid Caffeine in the Late Afternoon Onwards:
Caffeine, a chemical in coffee, colas, tea, chocolate, etc., causes hyperactivity and wakefulness.
Cut Down on Alcohol
Alcohol might help you get to sleep, but it results in shallow and disturbed sleep, abnormal dream periods, and frequent early morning awakening.
Sleep in a cool room (60 degrees or so). Pile on another blanket or add one under the mattress pad rather than turn up the heat. Some people seem to sleep better if there is a white noise -- a fan running, for example -- in the background. For others, noise can interrupt sleep.
How We Can Help
SHC provides urgent care, drop-in services, brief individual therapy, group therapy and referrals for on-going therapy. Additionally, you may benefit from utilizing relaxation resources such as using biofeedback programs or listening to relaxation audio files.
You can schedule an intake with our Psychologist, Dr. Ian Wallace, by calling (707) 654-1170.