This week we will be speaking to our Toronto Psychotherapist Montana who is a part of our team at Greystones Health on further tips to increase your quality of sleep. We will first ask Montana about how mindfulness in everyday life plays in getting a better sleep, and what to do if you are still having challenges with sleep.
How does mindfulness throughout the day factor into getting a better sleep?
If you are practicing the skill of mindfulness throughout the day this implies that you will be helping yourself out in getting a better overall sleep. But what does it mean to be more mindful throughout the day?
Step 1: being more aware of sleep hygiene before (ex. I have coffee 6 hours before bed)
The idea that you’re more in tune with what is going on with you internally and externally is very beneficial in getting a better sleep.
There is an accepting piece to being more mindful, with that comes thoughts and evaluations, some of which can be negative and not helpful. When you are mindful, you accept whatever comes to the surface in your head without judgement. This is a learned skill. Being mindful of what you are eating, seeing and being mindful of throughout the day can be strengthened, but this requires practice.
What would you recommend someone do if they are having consistent challenges with sleep?
Bringing the mindfulness piece into play is very important when having consistent challenges with sleep. This includes doing activities towards the end of the day that are soothing and relaxing (down time, watching tv, mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, and being mindful of what you’re eating towards the end of day).
Montana recommends using Calm or videos on YouTube for guided meditation, ASMR or soothing sounds. Research shows that it can be comforting to some if you soothe your senses such as sight or taste.
Behaviorally, it’s important to be more mindful of phone use or tv watching. Montana suggests that watching something boring (nothing unsettling like a crime documentary) can be the key to getting some ‘Zzz’. Journaling can also be useful, whether you have prompts or not. Some people need structure to process their day (residual feelings or thoughts, transfer energy from head to paper or virtually). Stopping work after a certain time is beneficial as your brain is stimulated and it can take many hours to slow it down. For example, working until 11:00pm may cause your brain to start slowing down around 2:00am.
Environmentally, try dimming the lights and making the environment conducive to sleep. Try soft sounds and make sure you are actually in bed and not on the couch or in a chair.
In the end, it’s all about trial and error, see what works for you and what doesn’t. In the end, we hope that these tricks and tips help you overall increase your sleep quality.