You know you feel lousy when you don’t get enough sleep. But did you know that too little sleep can actually have a lasting impact on your mental health? The Crew at Stay Healthy reminds you that sleep deprivation can lead to heightened emotional reactivity, in addition to other mental health consequences, which means that if you are trying to manage your mental health without improving your sleep, you are not doing yourself any favors.
So how can you boost your emotional health and enhance your sleep quality, all at the same time? By taking advantage of these healthy sleep tips and tricks.
Adjust Your Environment
You might not give it a lot of thought, so long as you have a bed to sleep on, but your bedroom could be contributing to your sleepless nights. Make sure the space is uncluttered and positive, cool, dark and quiet. Decluttering also helps mitigate stress in your home. If you tend to bring work into your bedroom, find a separate area in the house for it. Mixing your personal and professional affairs can lead your mind in the wrong direction when you’re trying to catch those all-important Zzzs. Keep appropriate boundaries for best results.
You may also want to remove carpeting from the bedroom if you have it, as carpet can house allergens which can disrupt your sleep. You may also need to replace the windows if they’re leaking outside air/noise, which can also negatively impact sleep.
Watch Out for Sneaky Sleep Disruptors
You know that having a giant cup of coffee before bedtime is a major “no-no” when you are experiencing restless nights. What you may not know is that there are some less-obvious disruptors that can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep. In fact, you may be reading this post on one such culprit: your smartphone.
As eMentalHealth.ca explains, smartphones impact sleep because the blue light emitted from screens actually triggers a reaction in your brain similar to the reaction produced by sunlight. What this means is that your brain thinks it’s time to wake up, when you should actually be winding down for the night. To counteract this effect, put down your phone a few hours before bed and keep other screens out of the bedroom.
Need more motivation? The overuse of smartphones may also reduce cognitive function and emotional well-being. That’s one more reason to find healthier ways to relax at night! With that in mind, try some mindful meditation to wind down, and make sure you stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
Know How Much Sleep You Really Need
Most people think they need eight hours of sleep per night for a healthy body and mind. In reality, though, getting better sleep may be more important for your well-being than simply getting more sleep.
Per CNBC, recent sleep studies showed that individuals who got around 6-7 hours of deep, restful sleep were able to complete tests with more success than those who got more sleep. Deep sleep can be especially important for older adults in terms of cognitive and emotional health, so seniors may need more rest to boost their brains.
If you are getting the hours of sleep recommended and still wake up feeling tired, it may also be a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional to address underlying issues and/or rule out the potential for actual sleep disorders.
Connect With Professionals
If you’ve tweaked both your environment and your lifestyle and you’re still not sleeping, there are a few different professionals who could help you. You could try a sleep specialist, acupuncture, massage therapy or private yoga.
All of the tips above can be helpful for improving your sleep, and they can also help improve your mental health. If you really want support for your mental health concerns, though, you should consider speaking with a licensed therapist. If it helps, you can think of therapy as you do checkups with your primary care physician, but know that working with the right therapist is the most effective way to manage and improve your mental health issues.
Sleep is one of life’s nonnegotiables, and if you’re suffering with insomnia, the rest of your life will suffer, too. Take steps to address your environment and habits, and if that doesn’t help, reach out to a healthcare professional.
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