Ways to Improve Your Sleep for Better Mental Health
If there’s one thing you should value, it should be getting good sleep. Keeping up with consistently getting quality sleep each night is one of the foundational methods for staying healthy.
Our sleep contributes to both our physical and mental health. If we chronically miss out on it, we can experience the effects of sleep deprivation, which include feeling drowsy, mood swings, increased blood pressure, and risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, and other ailments.
Long story short, it’s important that we care about our sleep. When something is interfering with it, we should do everything possible to re-establish a healthy relationship with a good night’s sleep.
What could interfere with healthy sleep?
There are many factors that come into play which could be affecting your sleep. The cause could be rooted in your behavior during the day depending on your alcohol and caffeine consumptions, and technology usage.
The root of the problem could also be in the bedroom. If you don’t have a proper bedroom setup that’s conducive of good sleep, it’s no wonder you’re having trouble resting with ease. Learn how you can address various potential issues so that you can curl into bed without struggling for sleep each night.
Fixing Behavioral Problems
Evaluating your behavior during the day is a great place to start because there’s usually an easy fix you can make.
You may find that alcohol helps you feel drowsy and fall asleep, however, it won’t leave you feeling well-rested in the morning. Alcohol interrupts the circadian rhythm, blocks REM sleep, causes breathing problems, and can keep you running to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Don’t let alcohol rob you of quality sleep. If you need a sleep aid to make you feel drowsy in the evenings, consider melatonin, a natural supplement that helps maintain your sleep/wake cycles and won’t leave you feeling drowsy when you wake up in the morning.
That 3PM cup of coffee may feel essential to get you through the rest of the workday, but it could also be the reason you can’t fall asleep at night. Although you can start feeling the effects of caffeine within 30 to 60 minutes, its effects don’t wear off that quickly. The half-life of caffeine is 3 to 5 hours, and the remaining caffeine can stay in your body for a long time. This doesn’t just mean coffee — it also includes chocolate, soft drinks, and most headache drugs. Be wary of your caffeine consumption during the day, especially in the afternoon.
The artificial light emitted from our technology can stimulate our brains and disrupt our normal circadian rhythm. Our sleep/wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is controlled by light. When it is bright outside, our bodies understand it is daytime and the waking hours. When the light is removed, our bodies understand it is nighttime and our natural melatonin production begins to help us fall asleep.
Technology devices like smartphones and TVs confuse this rhythm. The continued exposure to light sources delays the production of melatonin and therefore makes it challenging to fall asleep. Avoid your devices during the nighttime hours, and if you have to spend prolonged hours in front of a screen each day, consider blue light glassesto help avoid this issue by filtering away blue light.
Creating a Proper Bedroom Set Up
Once you address any behavioral issues you have during the day, it’s time to consider what’s going on in your bedroom at night to interrupt your sleep.
Light sources from inside or outside the bedroom could be interrupting your sleep. If you have technology devices plugged in in your bedroom, like an alarm clock or TV, a light could be emitting from those. Consider an analog clock as an alternative to digital, and as for the TV, go ahead and ditch it from your bedroom since you don’t want to be around artificial light sources before bed anyways. If outside light sources are the problem, like a street lamp or cars driving by, it may be time to invest in blackout curtains to keep your room nice and dark for your sleep.
If loud noises from living in an urban setting are disrupting you, there may be no better option than relocating to a quieter neighborhood. However, before you start packing up all of your belongings, there are a few things you can try. An easy option is a white noise or sound machine. These machines emit a constant noise that helps mask any disruptive sounds. If you want a more heavy-duty option, earplugs may be the way to go, although these could be uncomfortable.
Finally, it’s time to address your overall comfort. Are you too hot or cold in your sleep? Change the temperature or your bedding to products to adjust accordingly. Are you waking up sore or in pain? Then there could be an underlying issue — your mattress. If old or improper, a mattress can cause pain in the pressure points of your shoulders and hips, especially for side sleepers. If it’s been around seven to 10 years since you last upgraded your bed anyways, it’s probably time to find something better suited to your needs.
When it comes to your sleep, you should be serious about doing what you need to improve your rest. These few hours each night we get to rest our bodies and minds are critical to our overall health and well-being. With these tips, you’ll be able to take back control of your sleep and correct your sleeping style mistakes.
Author’s bio:Ashley Little is a writer from Mattress Advisor, a leading mattress review site that helps others get their best night of sleep each night. Her wind-down routine includes dimming the lights, burning a few candles, and reading a great book each night.
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