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Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and practices that we engage in to promote good sleep. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), sleep hygiene skills are considered essential for emotional regulation, managing stress, and maintaining overall mental and physical health. Poor sleep can have negative effects on our physical health, mood, memory and cognitive functioning, leading to a wide range of issues such as fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and even depressed or anxious mood.
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for our overall health and well-being. However, many people struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep. The good news is that there are several techniques you can use to relax your mind and body and improve your sleep quality. In this blog post, we will explore some DBT skills that can help you sleep better.
DBT sleep hygiene tips
- Create a Consistent Sleep Schedule
One of the most important DBT skills for improving sleep hygiene is to establish a consistent sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time (or as close as possible) every day, even on weekends. This helps to regulate our circadian rhythms, which are our body’s internal clock that controls our sleep-wake cycles.
- Practice Relaxation Techniques
Practicing relaxation techniques before bed can help to calm the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep. Techniques such as TIPP skills, grounding, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can be especially helpful for reducing stress and anxiety.
- Avoid Stimulating Activities Before Bed
Engaging in stimulating activities before bed, such as watching TV or using electronic devices, can make it harder to fall asleep. The blue light emitted by electronic devices can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep.
Instead, consider reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing meditation to help prepare your mind and body for sleep. It can make a big improvement in overall sleep quality to avoid stimulating activities and screens in the 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
- Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment
Creating a relaxing sleep environment can also help to promote better sleep hygiene. This may include keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows, and removing any distractions that may interfere with sleep.
Practical tips for better sleep
In addition to these DBT skills, there are several practical tips that you can implement to improve your sleep hygiene and get better sleep.
- Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Before Bed
Caffeine and alcohol can both interfere with sleep quality and disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid consuming these substances for at least a few hours before bed. Setting a time limit on caffeine can be especially beneficial to improving sleep quality, such as no caffeinated beverages after 4pm.
- Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can contribute to poor sleep quality. However, it’s important to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as this can increase alertness and make it harder to fall asleep. Trying to build in 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, such as brisk walking, yoga, or mowing the lawn, can significantly reduce overall anxiety/stress response and improve sleep quality.
- Limit Daytime Napping
While daytime napping can be tempting, especially if you’re feeling tired, it can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you must nap, try to limit it to no more than 30 minutes and avoid napping later in the day.
- Limit Exposure to Light at Night
Exposure to light at night can interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Try to limit exposure to bright lights before bed and consider using blackout curtains or an eye mask to create a dark sleep environment.
5. Try a Weighted Blanket
Mosaic Weighted Blankets can be beneficial for improving sleep quality in several ways. First, the added weight of the blanket creates a gentle pressure on the body, which can provide a calming effect and reduce anxiety and stress. This can help individuals feel more secure and comfortable, leading to improved relaxation and ultimately better sleep. The pressure from the weighted blanket also promotes the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of relaxation and well-being, and melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. This can help regulate the body’s natural sleep-wake rhythm and promote a more restful night’s sleep.
Second, the weight of the blanket can provide sensory input that can help individuals with sensory processing issues or sensory sensitivities feel more grounded and settled. The deep pressure provided by the weighted blanket can help individuals feel more connected to their bodies and reduce sensory overstimulation, which can often disrupt sleep.
Lastly, the use of a weighted blanket can help reduce movement during sleep, which can be particularly helpful for individuals who experience restless or fidgety sleep. The weight of the blanket can help individuals feel more settled and less likely to toss and turn during the night, leading to a more uninterrupted sleep experience.
DBT sleep hygiene skills for relaxation
- Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment. It can help you relax your mind and body, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep quality. To practice mindfulness meditation, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Notice the sensation of air entering and leaving your body. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
It can be helpful to focus your attention on deep breathing while observing the present moment with one of your senses (sounds you hear, colors you see, how your clean sheets feel). Guided meditations can be soothing and helpful for relaxing your mind and body prior to bed. Learn more about helpful types of meditation and breathwork at the Art of Living Foundation and use this link for $100 off SKY Breath Meditation course to learn how to use meditation to increase feelings of happiness, experience more control over your thoughts and emotions, reduce overall stress and anxiety, and improve your sleep quality.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body. It can help reduce muscle tension, relieve stress and anxiety, and improve sleep quality. To practice progressive muscle relaxation, start by tensing the muscles in your feet and toes for a few seconds, then relax them. Move on to your calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, arms, and so on. Take deep breaths and focus on the sensation of relaxation in each muscle group.
- Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a simple yet effective technique to calm your mind and body. It can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality. To practice deep breathing, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Take a deep breath through your nose, filling your lungs with air and expanding your abdomen. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth.
Visualization is a technique that involves creating a mental image of a peaceful and relaxing scene. It can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality. To practice visualization, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful and relaxing scene, such as a beach, a forest, or a garden. Use all your senses to make the image as vivid as possible. Imagine the sound of the waves, the smell of the flowers, the warmth of the sun, and so on.
Self-soothing is a technique that involves comforting yourself in times of distress by seeking comfort through your sensory experience in the present. It can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality. To practice self-soothing, find a comforting activity that makes you feel relaxed and calm, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music. Make time for this activity before bedtime to help you unwind and relax.
In conclusion, creating a relaxing nighttime routine that involves intentional use of DBT skills can be helpful in improving sleep quality by reducing stress and anxiety, calming the mind and body, and promoting relaxation. By practicing mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, and self-soothing, you can create a relaxing bedtime routine that will help you sleep better. Remember, good sleep is essential for your overall health and well-being, so make it a priority in your life.