Sleep is critical for mental health. It is how our mind recovers and processes all the new information we have learned throughout the day, and adequate rest helps us to learn, concentrate, and think creatively. Conversely, sleep deprivation fosters negative and foggy thinking, anxiety, and depression. If you are struggling to get enough sleep at the end of the day, here are some practical solutions to help you along.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Atmosphere
Your bedroom should be a safe haven where you retreat for quality downtime. This may require you to make changes to your bedroom that will reduce stress and promote sleep. For instance, blackout curtains can help significantly by blocking sunlight from piercing your bedroom at unwanted times. Controlling the temperature in your bedroom is also important; if necessary, purchase a space heater or small A/C unit. Furthermore, taking measures to reduce noise at bedtime can also lead to better sleep; if noise is a problem, look into sound-dampening material for your walls and ceiling.
One of the leading causes of sleep disruption is the light emitted from the screens of TVs, computers, and cell phones. In this day and age, it can be difficult to completely cut out electronics from your bedroom, but keeping usage to a minimum around bedtime can go a long way in helping you fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
Schedule Your Sleep
When life gets busy and overwhelming, sleep is often the first thing we sacrifice. However, not getting enough sleep will have a negative impact on your short-term and long-term mental health and leave you with less energy and keep you from being productive. In order to get into a healthy sleep routine, you have to prioritize sleep in your life. Find a bedtime and waking time that works well for you, put it on your daily schedule, and stick to it.
Follow an Exercise Routine
Exercise and sleep are symbiotic in that how you do one affects how you do the other. For example, if you keep up with a consistent exercise routine, you will likely have better sleep. If you get enough sleep, you will likely have more productive workouts. Just make sure not to work out too close to bedtime because it takes your mind and body time to cool off; try to leave at least an hour between the end of your workout and lights-out.
Stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine are known to keep people from falling asleep, so be mindful of how much you have in a day, as well as when you have them. Everyone is different in how stimulants affect them and for how long. For instance, a lot of people refrain from having coffee in the evenings, but some claim that even having one in the afternoon can keep them up at night. Also, alcohol can help you fall asleep, but it can also disrupt your sleep as it starts to leave your system in the middle of the night.
Eat a Lighter Dinner
Along with considering stimulants, be conscious of your diet. Your mind and body recover better when you provide yourself with the nutrition you need during the day. Dinner, especially, makes a difference. Try to eat a lighter meal for dinner, and consider substituting any unhealthy bedtime snacks with healthier options.
Getting good sleep is imperative for our mental health, and it doesn’t have to be a daunting or expensive task. Take any precautions necessary to make your bedroom stress-free and sleep-friendly. Put your sleep time on your schedule like you do everything else (i.e. work, gym, pick the kids up, etc.). Exercise consistently, be careful with stimulants, and eat a lighter dinner. If you follow these tips, you should be on your way to better sleep and feeling great!