Sleep is one of our most important daily activities. After an illness, injury or time of stress, quality and amount of sleep can decline and add to health complications. For example, a common challenge for people with spinal cord injuries is sleep apnea, a condition that interrupts your sleep multiple times during the night. And for people with brain injuries, sleep disturbances can be regular occurrences.
Building habits toward better sleep is a powerful way to engage in the healing process and improve your overall health. Here are five ways you can improve your sleep habits:
1) Schedule a regular bedtime and wake up time. Having a predictable sleep/wake schedule can help set your internal clock. Planning for 7-9 hours is helpful for adults and can be more during times of healing.
2) Limit daytime napping. A quick nap of 20-30 minutes can be helpful to refresh your energy. Longer naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
3) Eat your last meal at least two hours before bedtime. A full stomach at bedtime can make it hard for your body to rest. Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided 4-6 hours before bedtime.
4) Exercise. Daily exercise of any kind can help deepen your sleep. Plan this during the daytime or early evening for best results.
5) Prepare your environment for sleep. A dark, quiet, cool (60-65 degrees) room with comfortable bedding and pillows can help create an inviting environment for sleeping. Try to avoid TV and screens in the bedroom.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, in addition to trying these habits, reach out to your doctor or trusted healthcare provider for more guidance and information. At Craig, we offer resources online in a resource library and through our Nurse Advice Line for patients, caregivers and the community. The Nurse Advice Line can be reached at 800-247-0257 or 303-789-8508.
Download our sleep hygiene tip sheet here.