It’s hard to overstate the importance of getting enough restful sleep each night. It affects your mood, motivation, ability to concentrate, and your ability to cope with feelings of depression and anxiety. You don’t feel like yourself if you’re not getting enough, it’s hard to focus, and all you can do is think about getting through the day and going home. At times like that, it’s easy to understand why sleep is so important to your mental health. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep at night, you may need to try some new strategies to help the process along.
Take a look around your bedroom. Now, consider the color of your walls and how they might be affecting you at night. Busy wallpaper patterns or bright paint colors can make it difficult to relax and get into sleep mode, so consider repainting with colors that aren’t so jarring. Go with earth tones and light pastel colors instead. It’s an important part of creating a restful sleep space.
Whether you like routines or not, sleep is one function that benefits from an established routine. Determine a set bedtime that works for you, stick with it every night, and get up at the same time every morning — even on the weekends. This will set a routine your body will get used to and benefit from. If you find yourself feeling sleepy as your bedtime approaches, you’ve done a good job setting yourself up for healthy, restful, and rejuvenating sleep.
Having a bedtime regimen is about more than hitting the sack at night and expecting to fall asleep. Think of it as a process that begins a couple hours before bed with habits that lay the groundwork for a good night’s sleep. It’s a personal, subjective matter that depends on what works best for you. For some people, a hot bath might be just the thing, as it “tricks” your body into feeling sleepy by raising your body temperature, which starts going down as soon as you emerge from the tub. Gradually, you start feeling sleepy. Or, deep breathing exercises might work best by slowing your thoughts and focusing on one word or phrase over and over.
If you don’t feel like sleeping, don’t just lay around in your bed and wait for it to happen. The result: You’ll just toss and turn and make things worse. Get up and sit quietly in a darkened room with no visual or aural distractions. Make sure to keep all screens turned off and ensure that no light is coming in (use blackout shades if necessary).
Some people believe in working out before bedtime, thinking it will wear them out. However, avoid doing anything that raises your metabolism, elevating your heart rate and stimulating mental processes. If sleep is hard to come by, you should be slowing the pace after dinner, not speeding it up. And avoid all stimulants, such as caffeine (no coffee before bed) as well as alcohol, which robs you of the deep REM sleep necessary for restful sleep. A nightcap might help you get to sleep, but it won’t help you stay there. If you’re a habitual napper, try limiting afternoon naps or eliminate them altogether so you’re sleepier at night.
Sleep deprivation is a serious problem that affects you mentally as well as physically. Often, the problem can be solved by altering your nighttime habits and routines. If not, it might be necessary to seek medical help or consult a sleep expert.
Guest post by Jackie Cortez
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