By Larisa Garski, LMFT

In practice, most of us know that we need more sleep than we’re getting and that screen time  –  time spent on our smart phones, tablets, laptops, and computers – is only [exacerbating the problem](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-hollman-phd/effects-of-screen-time-on_b_11407544.html). Sleep hygiene, or the routines we move through 30-60 minutes before bed, drastically impacts both the quantity and quality of our sleep. Bringing extra attention to these habits can greatly improve sleep, particularly for those who tend to be lighter or more fitful sleepers.

How to Improve your Sleep Hygiene

Consistently good sleep helps to alleviate anxiety symptoms, decrease depression symptoms, and boosts your focus during the day. It can even increase your ability to maintain emotional control! The first step to improving any routine is to bring extra attention or awareness to it. Below are the 3 steps you can take to start exploring your sleep habits:

  1. Record your pre-sleep routine: Try keeping a 2-3 day journal of your evening habits. It doesn’t need to be detailed. Just list what you do, what you eat, what you drink, and where you are in the 2-3 hours leading up to bedtime.
  2. Explore the connection between sleep and a productive day: Start to track the number of hours of sleep you get each night. Sleep apps can be great tracking tool! Next, make a note on your calendar of mornings or days where you find yourself struggling to stay awake, alert and/or motivated. At the end of the week, review your findings.
  3. Ask a friend: Talk with a close friend or significant other about your sleep habits. Those who know you best may give you surprising and helpful feedback!

In my practice, I often work with folks who site sleep as a recurring problem. If you are regularly struggling with sleep, I am here to help. If you would like to more information about how therapy can help you gain the tools you need for better sleep hygiene, please feel free to call me at 651-764-7277 for a free 15-minute consultation.