My first experience with a sleep specialist was not at all what I expected. I was fairly desperate at the time. I was always tired and couldn’t seem to get a night of restful sleep. I fully prepared myself to receive a myriad of diagnoses. Something had to be wrong with me, right!?
Instead, the sleep specialist took one look at my checklist of symptoms and said, “Stop using your phone at night. Then come back and we’ll see.” And then with one flick of her white coat, she was gone. I was stunned. Was she serious?!
After getting over my initial disbelief, I decided to do my research. In the process, I discovered sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is defined as “habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.” How exactly do you go about doing that? Here are some ways I improved my sleep hygiene:
Don’t **** where you eat. This counts for sleep too! My doctor said, “If you’re not sleeping or planning on sleeping- get out of your room!” Your mind needs to relate your bed to sleep: not just lying around watching Netflix all day. If you’re going to watch tv, try to do it outside of your room or at least off of your bed. That way your body knows you mean business when you lie down to sleep at night.
There are plenty of natural remedies that can help your body relax. You can try melatonin, 5 HTP, essential oils, and finally, my favorite, chamomile tea. Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. It’s basically a weaker version of Ambien!
Try to set a bedtime routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. You can't stay up until 3 am on the weekends and expect your body to be ready to switch it back up Sunday night. You can also condition your body to know it’s time for bed by doing the same thing every night: taking a hot bath, lighting a certain candle, or playing instrumental music.
So before you give up all hope on ever having a good night's sleep again, try and work on your sleep hygiene. Don’t expect things to work overnight though! It took you a long time to develop bad habits and it will take some time to break them!
- Sabreen Y.