Work-Related Stress

Sleep Hygiene: What it is and How to Start a Healthy Practice

Sleep is an important part of maintaining your mental and physical health, though many people struggle to get a restful night’s sleep.


Surprisingly, sleep hygiene isn’t about cleanliness. Sleep Hygiene is about habits and practices you maintain around your bedtime routine and night of sleep. Though many of us are very familiar with how a full night of rest can make us feel more energetic during the day, healthier, and generally in a better mood, often our routines around bedtime can become counterproductive to getting good quality sleep. So what can we do to change our nightly routine to get the best from our rest?

Start a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

A regular routine becomes a signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep. Your nightly routine could include a warm bath or shower, reading a book, gentle stretching or yoga, or meditation. Just be sure it’s something that’s soothing, relaxing, and doesn’t involve a screen (TV or phone time). Establishing a regular bedtime and wake time (yes, even on weekends) can help immensely with troubled sleeping

Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Discomfort can often be the cause of disturbed sleep. Keep your bedroom cool, avoid having phone and TV screens on or around, keep the room as dark as you can with curtains or blinds (use an eye mask if needed), and consider using white noise machines (these can be very affordable!) if quiet is hard to come by in your area.

Avoid TV or Reading in Bed

When you watch TV or read in bed, your body begins to associate the bed with wakefulness and it will be more challenging to fall asleep. Limit your activities in bed to sleep and intimacy.

Refrain from Napping

According to the American Sleep Association, naps can decrease our “sleep debt” that is needed when it’s time to fall asleep, which can lead to difficulty going to sleep, insomnia, and sleep deprivation. If you must nap, keep it to 30 minutes or less!

Be Careful with Caffeine (and other substances)

The effects of caffeine in coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks can last hours after ingestion and interfere with sleep. Keep consumption of caffeine to before noon. Nicotine from cigarettes and alcohol can also contribute to broken, fragmented sleep.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps us sleep continuously without waking for that satisfying, restful sleep. Exercise earlier in the day is most ideal when it comes to improving sleep hygiene.

If you don’t think you can incorporate each recommendation into your life, that’s okay. Make the changes that seem possible for your life and pay attention to any improvements in your sleep and level of rest you feel as a result!

The Problem with Mindfulness

In recent years, Mindfulness Practice has gotten a lot of attention. It is part of recommended treatments for everything: from anxiety and depression (see archived articles on this blog) to cancer and pain management. There are numerous physical and mental health benefits from mindfulness meditation, and it is practically risk-free, so what could be the problem?


Despite my obvious affection for it, I do take issue with how mindfulness meditation is sometimes approached, particularly considering its growing popularity. People hear how effectively it helps high stress--and other conditions--so they download apps or stream videos on YouTube and give it a whirl! Though these resources house fantastic guided mindfulness practices, this is often where the problem begins.

Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as, “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. When mindfulness meditation is practiced with the focus on relieving stress, it can frequently have the opposite effect. We start setting expectations for ourselves and for mindfulness, like:

  • “I should be able to do this, it’s so simple”
  • “This is supposed to be relaxing. Why don’t I feel relaxed?”
  • “This isn’t working. There must be something wrong with me”
  • “I’ve done this a few times now and I’m still depressed/anxious/stressed. I knew this wouldn’t work.”

When this happens, we lose sight of the fact that mindfulness is meant to be practiced with the sole expectation of being present in that moment, nonjudgmentally. That’s the goal. All the other things are wonderful, helpful, fantastic side effects.

So if you’ve given up on the idea that mindfulness could be for you, or if you’ve tried practicing mindfulness and thought it was ineffective, I urge you to reconsider.

Try starting with the sole aim of paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. It sounds simple but this goal is plenty lofty.

When Enthusiasm Ebbs: Reawakening Professional Passion

We’ve all had it happen. When your passion for a project, a job, a career putters out, it can be so disappointing. Depending on the situation, it can feel devastating. But just because your enthusiasm is ebbing for what you do or what you’re working on, doesn’t mean it has to remain that way! Here are some things to consider or try out before throwing in the towel all together: