On Sleep Hygiene: How to Get a Better Night’s Rest
April 5, 2022
Is a good night’s sleep hard to come by? Do you frequently feel tired, irritable, distracted, or prone to accidents or errors during the day? These are all signs of sleep deprivation or insomnia, which can take a tremendous toll on your health.
As it turns out, the scientific and medical community now agree that poor sleep is even a factor in the development of chronic pain!
It’s easy to imagine how pain can keep someone up at night. But we now know that poor sleep can actually worsen or contribute to the pain itself, primarily by disrupting important physiological processes that occur during sleep and are important for regulating pain and healing.
Here’s what this means for you: you cannot fully address an acute or chronic pain issue without at least taking a look at the quality of your nightly Zzz’s!
Keep reading to learn about some practical ways to sleep better and how one of our Bethesda or McLean physical therapists can help.
Sleep Hygiene: 8 Habits for Better Rest Tonight
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine defines sleep hygiene as healthy habits that can improve your ability to fall and stay asleep. Here are eight habits to try:
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
- Don’t get into bed until you feel sleepy. Still awake after about 20 minutes? Get out of bed and go do a relaxing activity—without exposing yourself to a lot of light or electronic devices.
- Use your bed and bedroom only for the two R’s: rest and romance.
- Make your bedroom cave-like: cool (around 65 to 68 degrees) and dark (ideally, so dark you can’t see your hand when you hold it in front of your face).
- Limit your exposure to bright lights during the evenings by turning off your electronic devices and dimming the lights in your house about 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Avoid eating a large meal or consuming a lot of fluids before bedtime. The general rule is to wait about three hours after your last meal before heading to bed, but if hunger is keeping you awake, opt for a light snack.
- Move every day and eat a healthy diet.
- Minimize alcohol and caffeine consumption.
Can a Bethesda or McLean Physical Therapist Really Help Me Get Better Sleep?
As we’ve learned, doctors and researchers agree that sleep and pain have a bidirectional relationship—one can contribute to the other and vice versa. Which is exactly why working with a physical therapist (PT) might help!
Your PT can help you get a better, fuller night’s rest by:
- Implementing customized strategies to help reduce your pain, inflammation, and other sleep-disrupting symptoms
- Showing you safer sleeping positions
- Helping you increase your tolerance for daytime exercise