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The ABCs of Better Zzzzzs

by Jamie Allers, RDN


Have you ever slept ‘enough’ hours during the night, but woke up feeling tired? Do you look for that afternoon cup of joe to get you through the rest of the day? You may be getting more than 6 hours of sleep, but is it good quality sleep? Take the fast track to dreamland and better health by implementing the ABCs of better Zzzzs! 

Assess your environment! 

Making a few tweaks to your sleep environment can make a significant difference in the quality of your sleep. It is important to sleep in darkness. Do you have light peeking in through your curtains? Room darkening blackout curtains could fix that. What about the TV in the bedroom? Do you fall asleep to the nightly news and leave that TV running during the night? Blue light from screens (including your phone!!!) can disrupt sleep. The goal would be to stay away from screens at least 1 hour before bed. If that seems difficult, try working towards that goal little by little. Blue light blocking glasses are also available and can be helpful to wear while you work on changing this behavior. What about the temperature of your room? Our body needs to drop in temperature to signal that it is ready for sleepand 65F is a good room temperature for this to happen. Assess your environment and see what adjustments you can make. 

Build a bedtime routine! 

Our lives can be hectic and sometimes we are on the go right up until our head hits the pillow. Building a bedtime routine helps to give our brains and body the message that it is time for sleep. How do we find time for this when we are always so busy? The good news is you might have a routine already without even knowing it! Do you brush your teeth before bed? That is the start of a routine! If we extend that to 5 minutes of reading after we brush our teeth to get away from screens before bed, that 5 minutes can turn to 10 before you know it! You can begin to stack onto this routine with whatever relaxing activities that work for you 

  • A hot cup of herbal tea after dinner 
  • Turning off the TV at a certain time 
  • Yoga or stretching 
  • Meditation 
  • Journaling 

Anything that you can do regularly for a few minutes (increase the time as you can) before bed will help to provide that sleep signal!  

Consistency is key! 

Changing your sleep patterns to improve the quality of your sleep will not happen overnight (no pun intended!). Progress, not perfection applies here, so do not beat yourself up if your new sleep routine takes some time to feel more natural. One of the keys to improving sleep quality is a consistent bedtime and wake-up timeeven on the weekends. This can be difficult if you work varying shifts or have ever-changing family schedules, but every effort counts! We have an alarm to wake us up in the morning, why not an alarm to remind us it is time for bed soon? Try it out!  

Working on your sleep quality and still having difficulties? Talk to your Pounds provider at your next visit for additional support.  


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