Creating New Sleep Habits
Episode #9 of the course The science of sleep: learn how to improve your sleep by Somni
In the same way you have learned other skills, you can learn to change your sleep by understanding some basic principles on behavior change and designing healthy habits. Today, we’ll walk you through those principles so that you can have a better understanding of how to create your own healthy sleep habits.
When life gets busy, one of the first things to go is your sleep when it should be the last. Sleep deprivation will only add fuel to the fire of whatever stress you are experiencing in your life. Taking the time to establish stable, healthy sleep habits will help keep you afloat during the busy times of life so that you don’t spiral out of control.
What is a Behavior?
Let’s start by looking at what a behavior is and how our behaviors are connected. A behavior is defined as “a range of actions and mannerisms done by an individual in conjunction with the environment.” Understanding this, we see that almost all of our behaviors are linked or interconnected in some way. When you engage in one behavior you will affect other behaviors, because your behavior patterns all have a reciprocal effect on one another. When you try to change one behavior, the others will follow suit. This can be beneficial when trying to change several habits at once, as you can begin to create a positive circle.
Systematic Learning of Behaviors
You have learned many skills before, such as riding a bike, playing a sport, reading, or brushing your teeth. These skills all took some level of instruction and practice. Similarly, you can learn how to create new healthy sleep habits. Keep these helpful principles in mind when creating your new sleep habits:
● Firstly, we find that keeping a lightness to your new habit formation, rather than getting uptight, helps in the process.
● Momentum is important in establishing routines. Try to complete as many days as possible in a row of your new habit.
● Positivity and celebration help solidify the new habit. Give yourself a positive or encouraging word when you feel good about what you did. If you have a positive emotional feeling, you’ll want to do it again to get the same emotional response.
The creation of new sleep habits is analogous to growing a plant. Not only do you want to put the plant in a spot where it can flourish, but you also have to provide the plant small amounts of continuous attention and effort over time. Similarly, think about where you can fit your behavior into your existing routine so that it can grow naturally while you give it daily attention and effort.
As you begin to change and make progress on your new sleep habits, you will begin to feel successful and more rested. This will allow you to make positive changes in other areas of your life and protect your sleep when life gets busier and busier.
Tomorrow, we’ll show you how coffee and alcohol affect your sleep, then wrap up the course and provide you with additional tips and tools to improve your sleep!
What You Can Do to Improve Your Sleep
1. Set alarms to begin your sleep routine every night. Incorporate tips from previous lessons in your nightly routine. See what works best for you.
2. Think about how you can link a new sleep routine to an existing habit that you do every night (e.g., every time you brush your teeth at night, turn your phone off to wind down).
3. Create a reliable and systematic way to change your sleep. All you need is just 20 more minutes a night to make a significant difference.
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