How To Improve Sleep Habits In Order To Boost Mental Health

It used to be believed that depression caused lack of sleep, but now studies are suggesting

that it’s the other way around. Why? Because our ability to regulate our emotions is more difficult after poor or no/little sleep. Interestingly enough, approximately 40 million people

in the U.S. suffer from a chronic sleep disorder while an additional 20 million experience intermittent problems — more than one third of adults are not getting enough shuteye on a regular basis. With that in mind, here are some actions you can take to improve your time between the sheets.

Exercise Early

While exercise can improve your sleep, any activity should be performed at least three hours before bedtime — the earlier the better — as it stimulates the body to produce the stress hormone cortisol that’s responsible for making the brain more alert. A combination of cardio, strength, and yoga exercises are best for inducing sleep.

Avoid Stimulating Ingredients

Taste aside, there’s a reason why we drink coffee: to stay awake. With that in mind, avoid caffeine found in coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, and some medications at least four to six hours before hitting the hay. Smokers should also follow the same rules with tobacco products. While alcohol may initially make you sleepy, it acts as a stimulant while you’re sleeping, thus disrupting the quality of shuteye. Avoid that nightcap and stop drinking within three hours before lights out.

Create A Place Of Peace

A quiet, dark, and cool (between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit) environment is the best for sleeping, so make any necessary changes to your bedroom so that it’s easier to snooze. If you live in a noisy environment (or become easily disrupted), invest in a pair of earplugs or get a white noise machine that pumps out ambient sounds such as crashing waves or a thunderstorm. Blackout shades, heavy curtains, or an eye mask can help block out light while making it easier for the brain to accept it’s time to sleep. Keep all electronics and work-related materials out of your space so that you can strengthen the mental connection with your bedroom and snoozing.

Keep A Consistent Sleep Schedule

Set your body’s internal clock by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day — even on the weekends as to avoid a Monday “hangover.” Other benefits include fewer naps, improved alertness, reduced caffeine dependence, sharper focus and short-term memory, improved mood, decreased pain, easier to fall asleep and wake up, a more efficient immune system, and better safety and job performance.

Go To Sleep When You’re Truly Tired

While a consistent schedule is key, make sure it’s one that makes sense for your lifestyle. If you can’t sleep, don’t stare at the clock — in fact, turn it away from you to avoid an increase in stress. Rather, get up and engage in an activity such as reading or listening to relaxing music for about 20 minutes until you are more sleepy.

If all else fails, book an appointment to speak with your doctor about other options. However, if prescribed, be cautious about taking sleeping pills such as Ambien increased depression, agitation, bizarre behavior, aggression, dizziness, delirium, nightmares, and impaired judgement, are among the laundry list of side effects should the drug be abused. Considering the drug has been linked to addiction, depression, suicide, anxiety, and psychosis, a treatment program incorporating Ambien should be taken seriously and only as suggested — perhaps avoided altogether if you have a history of addiction.

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