The Power of Sleep: 5 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Patterns for Lasting Mental Health
A full night’s rest is rare these days and when it comes to your mental and emotional health it is critical. Research shows that we can be more irritable and easily frustrated with lack of sleep. We may have a short-temper and perceive our experiences with increased fear and worry. We may also suffer cognitive deficits and memory problems. We suffer and our relationships suffer too.
To help you get more restorative sleep, review these great tips that will help you transition your way into an energizing morning. You may not even need that second cup of coffee!
- Start prepping for sleep at least 30 minutes before getting in bed: This may sound excessive, but it will help turn your brain “off” so that you will be able to sleep more comfortably. Dim the lights, get in your comfortable clothing, drink your bedtime tea, meditate, listen to soothing music, etc. This routine will help prepare the body for sleep and begin the process of calming your mind.
- Put those electronic devices out of sight: Yes, I know you want to watch Netflix and browse Facebook, but it’s one of the worst things that you can do for your sleep cycle. The screens on electronic devices stimulate your mind and eyes so that when you turn that light off, your brain will be running full steam ahead and create a restless sleep. This “blue light” can suppress melatonin production causing insomnia. The content associated with your screen time may also keep you awake. Turn these devices off and put them away as soon as you start your bedtime preparations. Grab yourself a good traditional book or magazine and settle into a comfortable spot in bed or on the couch.
- Try breathing and mindfulness exercises: If you are interested in trying to help your body adjust to your new sleep schedule, you should consider the idea of making space in your bedtime routine for breathing and mindfulness exercises. Yoga is a great option, too. This helps you get in tune with your body’s natural system so you can be in touch with what your body might be telling you. Breathing exercises will help slow the mind down and allow you to let go of unwanted thoughts and ideas. Access a great collection of mindfulness apps on your smartphone and choose a short, guided exercise if you are a beginner to mindfulness.
- Keep a schedule: This is especially important for your children, though you’ll benefit from it, too. Keep a strict bedtime and a strict wake up time all week long. Regular sleep patterns are known to be just as important as the number of hours we sleep. Researchers at Harvard found that a consistent sleep-wake cycle is associated with academic success in children.
- Watch your caffeine intake: Remember that caffeine is a powerful stimulant. The sleep disruptive effects of caffeine are well-documented and as such cutting out caffeine after dinner time (generally 6pm) is recommended. Switch to caffeine-free herbal tea or another kind of low sugar (or sugar-free) drink that will allow you to enjoy something else in place of caffeine as the day winds down.
We are all aware of the value of a good night’s sleep. We all have certainly felt refreshed and alert when we have had adequate sleep and the fatigue when we have had a poor night’s sleep. If you are sleeping poorly night after night, it places a tremendous strain on your nervous system, immune system and mental/emotional health. If you’re not sleeping well or aren’t feeling rested when you wake up in the morning, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor.
Jones, J. (2018). The Power of Sleep: 5 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Patterns for Lasting Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 8, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-power-of-sleep-5-ways-to-improve-your-sleep-patterns-for-lasting-mental-health/