How To Improve Your Sleep In Order To Boost Your Mental Health
Sleep deprivation has many negative side effects, which include memory issues, weakened immunity, high blood pressure, weight gain, higher risk of accidents, difficulty with concentration, low sex drive, poor balance and risk of heart disease and diabetes. But if you've been skimping on sleep lately and have also noticed that your mood has also taken a turn for the worse, don't ignore the symptoms. Lack of shut-eye is also linked to depression, suicidal thoughts and paranoia.
Without solid mental health, it can be extremely challenging to get a hold of your physical well-being, so here's how you can improve your sleep so you can feel well in both mind and body.
Establish A Sleep Schedule
It's important to get to bed and wake up at the same time every day -- even on weekends -- because our bodies inherently crave consistency in order to optimally perform. It becomes easier for your body to naturally prepare for daily activities and mealtimes, too, so your digestive system will thank you. If you're not sure exactly when to hit the lights, experiment with a sleep calculator. Just remember, if you can't fall asleep, don't stay in bed staring at the ceiling. Rather, get up and try doing something for 20 minutes (reading a book, participating in a non-electronic hobby, sipping on herbal tea) until you feel sleepy enough to hit the hay. If this is a regular issue, you may have to adjust your sleep schedule.
Avoid Stimulants Late In The Day
While it's best not to smoke and drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages, if you're going to participate in any of these vices, do so at least five to six hours before bedtime, lest you have a night of disrupted sleep. These stimulants disrupt the natural sleep cycle, which include sleeping lighter and not entering the deep REM mode. If you're prone to sleep apnea, you'll see an increase in symptoms.
Turn Your Bedroom Into A Sanctuary
If you've ever wondered why you sleep like a baby at a hotel, but have problems in your own surroundings, take a look around. Do you see piles of clutter? Remove them. Why?
Because there's a link between junk and the type of stress that can make it difficult to take a trip to dreamland.
Invest in a new mattress that suits your sleeping preferences (side or stomach sleeper) and health needs -- hot sleeper, back issues, restless leg syndrome, etc. Do your research by reading reviews of the best options on the market today. Lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain, and there's also a connection to how the streaming morning sun -- or glowing outdoor lights -- can make it difficult to fall asleep. Install a set of blackout shades or blinds that create a pitch-black environment. Just make sure you have a nightlight or lamp nearby if you need to get up in the middle of the night for any reason.
Adopt A Pre-Sleep Ritual
A pre-sleep ritual can make all the difference in the world, as it's a period of time to transition yourself from the craziness of the day to relaxation mode. Here are some examples of ways to decompress include:
Turning off all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime
Reading, meditation or breathing exercises
Listening to soothing music
Writing down a to-do list for the next day
Having a soothing cup of tea or light snack
Turning the thermostat down to a temp between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit
Taking a warm shower or bath
Spending time with loved ones or a partner/spouse.
If all else fails, speak to a doctor -- just be wary of taking sleeping pills as they come with many risks. It's easy to build up a tolerance, which can put you at risk for addiction. This can actually lead to depressed breathing while you sleep, thus leading to death. Erratic behavior, falling, cancer and drowsy driving are among several other reasons to consider pills with caution.
Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.