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Sleep and Occupational Therapy

In this post we share how Occupational Therapists can help with sleep. We also share strategies to maximise your sleep. Be sure to check out our resources, facts and worksheets on sleep!

Occupational therapists can play an important role in helping individuals with sleep difficulties. Occupational therapists can help you find holistic strategies for maximising your sleep. Here are some ways we can help:

  1. Sleep hygiene education: Occupational therapists can provide education about sleep hygiene practices such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing sleep environment, avoiding stimulants like caffeine, and limiting electronic device use before bedtime.
  2. Addressing underlying conditions: Occupational therapists can work with individuals to identify any underlying medical, psychiatric, or environmental factors that may be contributing to their sleep difficulties, and develop strategies to address these factors.
  3. Relaxation techniques: Occupational therapists can teach relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to help individuals with sleep difficulties reduce stress and tension.
  4. Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Occupational therapists can provide cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals change negative thoughts and behaviors that may be interfering with their sleep. CBT can also help individuals develop new coping strategies for managing stress and anxiety.
  5. Adaptive equipment: Occupational therapists can recommend and provide adaptive equipment such as pillows, mattress toppers, or specialized beds to help individuals with sleep difficulties achieve more comfortable and restful sleep.


Maximizing Your Bedroom Environment for Better Sleep

Sleep quality is critical for overall health and well-being, and creating a comfortable sleeping environment can play a key role in improving sleep. Research has shown that reducing noise and light can promote better sleep at night. To ensure a relaxing and soothing environment for sleep, consider the following tips:


  • Use a dim sensor light for bathroom trips or to reduce fear
  • Use a battery-operated candle for a calming effect
  • Block bright light that hits directly on your face to reduce headaches


  • Listen to relaxation music or guided meditation to help slow your breathing and heart rate
  • Keep headphones in your bedside table to avoid waking others or to drown out background noise
  • Use sleep music, such as rainforest sounds, to help you drift off to sleep
  • Put your phone on sleep mode or “do not disturb” function during your planned sleep time, allowing only important calls from designated contacts


  • Take a shower before bed to relax your muscles
  • Do some light stretches before bedtime
  • Keep pain medication and a snack close to the bed
  • Elevate your legs against a wall to improve blood circulation
  • Check your sleeping posture to avoid discomfort and reduce neck pain
  • Use a hot water bottle to regulate temperature


  • Use essential oils with sleep blends, such as lavender, geranium, or ylang-ylang, to promote relaxation and encourage a restful night’s sleep
  • Avoid stimulating fragrances such as mint or peppermint


  • Enjoy a hot chocolate or warm milk before bed to help you relax
  • Limit caffeine consumption, especially after 4 PM


  • Choose clothing and bed sheets that you find comfortable


  • Keep a book and pen near your bed to write down any thoughts or ideas that may keep you up
  • Doodle before bed to help clear your mind


  • Track your sleeping patterns to determine an optimal bedtime
  • Track your alcohol consumption and exercise patterns

Creating a comfortable sleeping environment can significantly improve your sleep quality and overall health. Incorporate these tips into your routine to ensure a good night’s sleep.


Dhand, R., & Sohal, H. (2006). Good sleep, bad sleep! The role of daytime naps in healthy adults. Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, 12(6), 379-382. doi: 10.1097/01.mcp.0000245703.92311.d0

Koch, S., Haesler, E., Tiziani, A., & Wilson, J. (2006). Effectiveness of sleep management strategies for residents of aged care facilities: findings of a systematic review. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 15(10), 1267-1275. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2006.01385.x

Xie, H., Kang, J., & Mills, G. H. (2009). Clinical review: The impact of noise on patients’ sleep and the effectiveness of noise reduction strategies in intensive care units. Critical Care, 13(2), 208. doi:10.1186/cc7154

Lee, H., & Park, S. (2006). Quantitative effects of mattress types (comfortable vs. uncomfortable) on sleep quality through polysomnography and skin temperature. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 36(11), 943-949. doi: 10.1016/j.ergon.2006.07.007

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