new year’s resolution sleep tips from Dr. Shelby Harris
5 expert tips to help you get your best sleep this winter, and all year long
Dr. Shelby Harris
Our Home, Happier™ Team member, Dr. Shelby Harris, is board certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and treats a wide variety of sleep, anxiety, and depression issues using evidence-based, non-medication treatments. Follow her on Instagram @SleepDocShelby.
resolution 1: a good night’s sleep begins in the morning
Committing to a solid, consistent morning routine is key in falling asleep better. With a regular wake time, seven days a week, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep faster at the same time every night because your body clock will fall into an improved rhythm. Make friends with your alarm clock—even on the weekend! The first thing you should do when you get up is to get a little sunlight (even on a cloudy day). 10-15 minutes of morning light awakens the body and brain, and helps further set that body clock for day and night.
resolution 2: stop the scroll
Commit to moving your phone far away from the bed to help remove temptation to check it at night. The impulse to scroll endlessly when you’re having trouble sleeping, or first thing in the morning, keeps your mind active and can make it more difficult to obtain quality sleep. Switch to an old-school alarm clock and stop using the phone as your alarm.
resolution 3: make your space a sanctuary
Your bedding should be clean and comfortable, and your pillows need to work for your sleep style. Consider your room as a comfortable, relaxing cave that you want to sleep in… cool, dark, and quiet. Cooler rooms are best for sleep (usually in the upper 60s Fahrenheit, but there is some range for what you prefer—try to keep it under 71 or 72 degrees F maximum). Keep the room as dark and quiet as possible. Take a few minutes and look around your room to see if there’s anything you can fix. Need earplugs? Noise-canceling headphones? White noise? Light-blocking shades? A fan? Optimizing your environment is the first place to start on the journey to a good night’s sleep!
resolution 4: create a wind-down routine
Create a 30-minute wind-down routine before bed that does not consist of staring at electronics. A nightly routine turns down the dimmer switch in your brain and signals sleep is soon to come. Put your phone down (ideally across from the bed), read an old-school book, meditate, stretch, listen to a podcast, journal, or do an adult coloring book. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a wind-down routine. Find something that you find enjoyable and relaxing, without screens. If finding 30 minutes is a struggle, start small. Aim for 10 minutes for a week or two, then increase the wind-down time. I’d rather you start small, instead of not at all.
resolution 5: set a coffee cut-off time
If you enjoy coffee (as I do!), make sure to limit it by around 2pm—or within 8 hours of bedtime if you go to bed later. While caffeine can help as a pick-me-up, consuming it too close to bed can cause trouble with falling and/or staying asleep, and even leads to multiple bathroom trips at night. And remember, while these things are always a great place to start, if you consistently try these tips but they’re not enough, always talk to your doctor to make sure there’s nothing medical that could be impacting your sleep as well.
Here’s to great sleep in 2022!