Sleep is a vital physiological process which accounts for approximately one-third of our lifespan. It is essential for maintaining optimal cognitive and physical health.
Technology today is exerting pressure on our sleeping patterns like never before. Smartphones, TV, internet and video games are all contributing to taking away precious minutes of our bedtime every night.
Getting a good night’s rest is therefore essential not only for the upkeep of the body, but also for maintaining cognitive skills that lead to enhanced learning, strong memory and emotional regulation.
A 2023 Sleep in America Poll findings made it clear that over 90 % of adults who had healthy sleep habits were less likely to develop symptoms of depression as compared to 65% who were dissatisfied with their sleep and experienced mild or greater levels of depression.
Is There a Relation Between Good Sleep and Poor Mental Health?
Sleep and mental health are closely related. Just like living with a mental health condition can deprive one of good sleep, in the same way poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Inadequate or poor sleep can increase the risk for other mental disorders. Sleep problems can also aggravate symptoms of anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts.
Sleep deprivation, even in otherwise healthy people, can lead to increased distress and anxiety levels, while those with mental health issues are more prone to chronic sleep problems.
Tips to Sleep Better
From family responsibilities to financial stress, quality sleep is extremely elusive these days.If you have been spending restless nights or find yourself wide-eyed at 3 am then you are struggling with sleep disorders.
Improving the quality and quantity of sleep is of paramount importance for personal well-being and mental wellness, but getting the right kind of sleep is easier said than done.
You may not be able to control these factors that interfere with your sleep patterns, but fortunately you can adopt some friendly habits to reinforce the sleep-wake cycles in your body.
Some of these tips may involve improving the environment of the bedroom while some may incorporate sleep related habits, also referred to as sleep hygiene.
Stick to a time routine
Set aside at least eight hours of sleep to get up well rested. Go to sleep at the same time every night, or day(if you work night shifts) and wake up at the same time after sleep, regardless whether it is a weekday or a weekend.
Your body and brain will respond better to a fixed daily routine. In case you fail to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed, do something relaxing till you feel tired but remember to maintain your sleep schedule.
Shut shop thirty minutes before bedtime
Put on some soft music or engage in activities that calm the body and make you feel drowsy. Read a book or do some stretching exercises to relax the muscles. Shun completely from the use of mobile phones, laptops or computers as they can be mentally stimulating.
Create the suitable environment
A dark, quiet and comfortable bedroom is vital for optimal sleep. Use a good mattress, launder the bed linen regularly because fresh smelling sheets can do wonders to create the perfect sleep environment. Consider using ear plugs, darkened shades or a fan or other device that suits your needs.
Engaging in exercise on a regular basis can help you fall asleep faster, provide sound slumber and make you get up less often. Avoid a workout just before bedtime as any strenuous activity can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
Sleep apps and journals
Journaling is a popular practice that helps one reflect on life in general and create new habits and setting goals. Keeping a digital journal instead of a physical one for better sleep is much better as mobile sleep apps have a wider variety of features like nature sounds, sleep stories and relaxing music for inducing proper sleep.
Limit naps during the day
Daytime naps can disrupt your nighttime sleep schedule, but if you have no option, limit the day nap to no more than an hour and avoid napping late in the day. In fact participants in one study ended up more sleepier during the day than at night after taking frequent daytime naps.
Increase exposure to bright light at daytime
Everybody has a built-in natural time clock which tells you when to stay awake and when it is the time to go to bed by affecting the body, brain and the hormones.
Bright light or natural sunlight during the day keeps this time clock ticking and improves energy in the daytime and fosters good nighttime sleep quality and duration.
Try natural sleeping supplements
There are several natural supplements that you can try (one at a time please) that can induce good sleep including:
- Ginkgo biloba
- Valerian root
They may not be sure shot magic supplements for sleep issues, but they have proven to work when combined with other natural sleeping strategies.
Sleep experts field questions daily from patients regarding sleep related issues, so don’t hesitate to seek advice from your doctor or a mental health professional. CBT in particular has been found to be highly effective in treating sleeping disorders.
If you are looking to make reservations for making a fresh start to the new year, make sure to give sleep a priority. Have faith as the right changes will ensure healthy sleep is a reality and not a dream.