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Tips on improving quality of sleep

Have you ever laid in bed awake because of racing thoughts, worries, or endless to-do lists? Has your Fitbit recorded dozens of restless or awake moments throughout the night?  These may be signs of insomnia-a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.  The National Sleep Foundation provides the following recommendations for hours of sleep:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

Inadequate sleep can lead to a number of emotional and health conditions (i.e. anger, depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, poor concentration, may lessen the ability to cope with stress and negatively affect relationships and work/academic performance).  To increase the likelihood of quality sleep, it is important to have good sleep hygiene.  For example, trying to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day.  Additionally, avoid napping during the day, avoid caffeine, avoid nicotine, and avoid alcohol and large meals close to bed time. Make sure your bedroom is a relaxing space that is designated for sleep.  Also, avoid using electronic devices (TV, phone, computer, tablets, etc.) before bed and certainly not IN bed.   

In recent years, researchers have found measurable benefits of both yoga and meditation in relation to sleep quality.  Mindfulness meditation is described as a practice of developing awareness of your sensations in the current moment in a non-judgmental and accepting way of your emotions, thoughts, and feelings.  Practice this for one minute: sit comfortably with your feet on the floor, close your eyes, and focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale.  You may even say “Relax” as you exhale each breath.  Notice how that feels. 

Many of my patients who have been using guided meditation on a regular basis have noticed a significant improvement in sleep quality.  It is helpful to find the “right fit” with the suggestions contained in the guided meditation.  Listen to a few different ones and find the one that you connect with the most.  I recommend practicing guided meditation daily and for the purpose of improved sleep quality to incorporate it into your night time routine.   

Below is a list of suggested meditation websites and YouTube videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfDS_udKkrQ

http://www.mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html

https://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/mindfulness/programs/mbsr/Pages/audio.aspx

Below is a list of apps available on iPhone and Android:

Relax with Andrew Johnson (free version available)

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson

Meditation Oasis

Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience

Calm

Stop, Breathe, & Think

Smiling mind (designed for children and young people)

 

Have a restful night!

Written by:

 

Dr. Anna Adams, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Athans and Associates

32 Main Street,

Park Ridge, IL 60068

(847) 823-4444

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