Updated on 3/3/2023

Sleep is an important component of eating disorder recovery and overall wellness. Lack of sleep can create many health problems that disrupt our natural cues for hunger and fullness. This blog offers tips for getting a better night’s sleep such as keeping a consistent sleep schedule and having a bedtime routine.

In eating disorder recovery, our overall health and wellness takes priority, making sleep an important factor for healing. But how do we know how much sleep is enough? Experts say that an adult individual should have 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night on a regular basis, however, these recommendations depend on the individual’s age:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-16 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 1-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School-age children (6-13): 9-12 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

Why Is Sleep Important in Recovery from an Eating Disorder?

Inadequate sleep can create many health problems, making it crucial to focus on during eating disorder recovery when overall health is so important. Inadequate sleep can disrupt our blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health complications such as diabetes. It can also disrupt our body’s natural cues of fullness and hunger that come from our hormones as they destabilize with lack of rest. These hormonal cues are paramount to a successful eating disorder recovery and in learning more about our individual bodies.

In addition, eating disorders can be amplified by stress, anxiety and depression. When we find ourselves unable to cope with our daily lives or are anxious about what’s ahead, we may revert back to our eating disorders to manage a level of control.

What Is Sleep Hygiene?

The term “sleep hygiene” refers to a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve an individual’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. These habits are a cornerstone of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the most effective long-term treatment for individuals with chronic insomnia. Practicing good sleep hygiene can not only help an individual focus on tasks but it can also improve mood, energy and immune function. On the other hand, getting poor sleep on a regular basis can lead to a multitude of problems such as depressed mood, an increase in stress levels, fatigue, poor concentration and a lack of energy. These factors can all contribute to poor work performance and put a strain on relationships. Frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In addition, if an individual is taking too long to fall asleep, they should consider evaluating their sleep routine and revising their bedtime habits.

Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for individuals who may not venture outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day as well as darkness at night helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Use your bed only for sleep.
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.

Center for Discovery provides treatment for all types of eating disorders in our residential and outpatient programs. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, Center for Discovery is here to help you. Reach out to us today.

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