Author: Cheryl Conklin
Improving Sleep Habits to Boost Mental Health
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our lives, yet for many, it can be elusive or even stressful. Many Americans suffer from early wakefulness, an inability to get to sleep, and vivid dreams that leave them feeling exhausted the next day. While there have been countless studies conducted on sleep and its role in our lives, there is still much we don’t know about it, and for many people, that’s a problem.
Sleep — or a lack of it — can be responsible for our ability to perform at work or school, our mental health, and even our physical health. When it is interrupted, or when we don’t get good quality rest, our bodies and minds are at risk of becoming overwhelmed or ill. Because our mental health is so closely tied to the amount of rest we get, it’s imperative to look for ways to make it better while also ensuring that your mental health is stable.
Keep reading for some tips on how to improve your sleep habits.
Set a Bedtime
Bedtimes aren’t just for the kids; having a set routine will help your body and mind prepare for sleep each night, allowing for better rest. Try to get to bed at the same time every night, and get into the habit of taking a hot shower, reading a book, or performing some other relaxing activity before you lay down. It’s also a good idea to put away the smartphone, computer, or tablet at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light these devices emit can interrupt your sleep.
Be Careful About Sleep Aids
Millions of Americans use sleep aids each year to help get better rest, but sometimes these can be more harmful than beneficial. Ambien, especially, has a long list of potential side effects, including agitation, bizarre behaviors, aggression, dizziness and slurred speech, so it’s important to keep this in mind the next time you’re having trouble sleeping. It’s also a drug that has the potential to become addictive; go here for more information and for treatment options.
Daily exercise is important for everyone, but it’s an especially good idea for those who are having trouble sleeping. A good workout can help increase your ability to get into a deep sleep and boost heart health and your immune system while reducing stress, making it the perfect way to teach your body to relax and get ready for rest. Look for heart-healthy workouts, such as walking or running, and try to incorporate a fun activity like swimming or playing a sport — for an extra boost to your mental health.
It can be difficult, especially if you wake up early or don’t feel rested once you get up for the day, but staying away from naps is important if you’re a troubled sleeper. Even sleeping for 15 or 20 minutes during the day can throw off your schedule at night, so stay awake and keep your mind focused on something engaging.
Make a Comfy Sleep Area
Making sure you have a comfortable space to sleep in is imperative, so invest in a good mattress and bedding, get some light-blocking curtains, and make sure the temperature is at the right setting. It’s also a good idea to refrain from sleeping with pets, as their movement at night can keep you awake or prevent you from falling into a deep sleep.
Improving your sleep habits doesn’t have to be stressful; some simple changes are all that’s necessary to wake feeling rested and in control. Once you get on a good schedule, you’ll be better able to stick to a routine and get the rest your body and mind need.