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BellaOnline's Mental Health Editor

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Sleep Hygiene Quiz

Guest Author - Melissa Weise, LCSW

One of the most important foundations of good mental health is good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is basically an assessment of the quality and quantity of sleep that you get. Take the quiz below to assess
your basic sleep hygiene strengths and weaknesses:

1. You know it is bedtime when:
a. The clock has reached that hour and you know you need to reach for the pajamas.
b. What bedtime?
c. Youíve hit the wall and cannot go any further.
d. It always feels like itís bedtime.

2. Right before bedtime you usually:
a. Do the same thing each night
b. There is no ďusuallyĒ. Every night is different
c. Cram in as much of your remaining to do list as you can.
d. Are so exhausted you can barely think

3. During the night
a. You may wake up once but it doesnít interfere with a good nightís sleep
b. You could be doing any variety of things: texting, watching tv, working, reading, or even sleeping at some point
c. You are a true night owl and have a hard time getting to bed before the late show hosts have finished for the evening
d. You are up and down more than a yo-yo, wanting to sleep but not able to

4. How many hours of sleep do you average?
a. Around 8
b. It varies
c. 4-6
d. It is so broken, you have no idea

5. When you wake up
a. You may feel tired for a few minutes but can usually get going pretty easily
b. Sometimes you feel great, other times you are totally exhausted
c. You are always groggy until those first cup or a dozen kick in
d. You are always groggy Ė whatever time of the day.

Mostly Aís: Good for you! You appear to have an overall good sleep hygiene and good foundation for functional mental health. Keep it up!

Mostly Bís: You appear to have some trouble with maintaining a good sleep ROUTINE. Human beings operate on a circadian rhythm, in other words a wake and sleep cycle that naturally mimics the day and night light of our world. In addition to allowing for good rest, this cycle helped early human beings stay safe from nocturnal predators by sleeping at night. With the regular exposure to electric lights during the nighttime, it is easy for us to destroy the delicate balance of this circadian rhythm. Our system becomes over stimulated with electric lights and our regular daily activities are often inside, limiting our exposure to the sunlight which stimulates the natural production of melatonin, a hormone which encourages sleep during the night. If routine is something you struggle with try the following suggestions:

+ Increase your daily exposure to sunlight (safely, of course) or ask your doctor about a melatonin supplement
+ Limit your over stimulating activities such as exercise, caffeine, television and computer time, video games, or anything else that actively engages your body or mind right before bed.
+ Work to decrease the bright lights around you and mimic the onset of twilight and dark at night to help your body naturally becomes sleepy in response to the slow development of the dark.
+ Develop a bedtime ritual. Rituals feel very much like rhythms to your body and so developing a personal bedtime ritual that you perform each night helps to simulate your bodyís natural circadian rhythm. It doesnít have to be anything fancy: teeth-brushing, medication-taking, and dressing in pajamas are all common rituals. The complexity is less important than the consistency of the ritual.

Mostly Cís: You appear to have some trouble with quantity of sleep. In other words, you arenít sleeping long enough. The average adult needs about 8 hours of sleep per night, but everyone is unique. Adolescents need more (9 to 12) and older adults need less (around 6). The best way to figure out exactly how much you need is to try to allow your body to sleep without an alarm clock for a few weeks in order to first catch up on any sleep debt that you have and then keep track of how many hours on average you sleep before waking naturally. Sleep debt is the running tally that you body keeps of the deficit of sleep each night. While this concept has been called into question for accuracy, new research has shown that the presence of sleep debt in some form is likely true. Of course, very few of us have the luxury of alarm-clock free days in a row and so a second possibility is to keep of log of how many hours you sleep each night and then increase or decrease them until you feel more rested upon waking. This may mean adjusting your bedtime or waking time or even instituting a better bedtime ritual to get you to sleep sooner (see above).

Mostly Dís: You appear to have some trouble with quality of sleep. You are the type of person who goes to sleep and intends to get the right hours of sleep, but either never gets into a deep enough sleep or wakes throughout the night. This can be for a variety of reasons including stress, worry, nightmares, a restless sleep partner, sleep environment conditions, or even sleep apnea. So the first thing is to pinpoint the reasons why your sleep isnít restful. Ideally, human beings sleep best in slightly cool dark rooms with as little outside noise as possible. If you have trouble with worry at night, some people find it helpful to get up and write down everything that they want to remember for morning and then work on relaxing and letting go of the worry. Donít have anything stimulating in the sleeping area Ė interesting books, hobbies, television, exciting music, cell phones and computers because this can interfere with trying to go to sleep. Human beings go through several levels of sleep and need to be in the deepest form of sleep a few times per night but intermittent wakefulness can limit this so finding the reason for poor sleep quality is imperative. If you have done everything that you can think of to increase the quality of your sleep, you may need to consult your doctor or other professional for help. Certain conditions such as apnea (when breathing stops during the night briefs and many times causing wakefulness) or mood disorders can impact sleep quality and may need the treatment of a health professional in order to be corrected.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Melissa Weise, LCSW. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Melissa Weise, LCSW. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Dr. Jonice Webb for details.

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