Sleep problems are some of the most common issues experienced by Americans today. Many people occasionally experience insomnia symptoms, with many citing long work hours and electronic use as some of the reasons. Not only are we getting too little sleep, but we’re also suffering from deterioration of our sleep quality. Fortunately, improving your sleep isn’t as hard as it seems. Your mental health will thank you for it!
Learn How Sleep Affects Mental Health
We spend one-third of our lives sleeping, so it’s no surprise that sleep plays a key role in our mental health. According to the Harvard Medical School, the rejuvenating stage of REM sleep supports our emotional health, strengthens our memory, and contributes to daytime cognitive functioning. Sleep disruption impairs our thinking and makes it much more difficult to regulate our emotions during waking hours. This may be why insomnia has such a strong link to psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
Develop a Bedtime Routine
Did you know your body can learn to sleep more efficiently? We can reinforce the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Following a bedtime routine can help your mind wind down and even tell your body that it’s time to produce sleep-inducing hormones. Try to engage in quiet, relaxing activities in the last 30 minutes before you go to bed. Of course, these activities will depend on your own personal preferences. Still, some great ideas include reading, doing yoga, listening to one of Mindful Way Coaching's meditations, and taking a bath. Just make sure you avoid stimulating activities like exercising, working, or watching TV.
Make Your Bed as Comfortable as Possible
If you wake up feeling sore and unrested no matter how much sleep you get, your bed may be the culprit. An uncomfortable bed causes you to sleep hot, toss and turn, wake up with back pain, and awaken when your partner moves. A good-quality mattress and comfortable bedding can make a huge difference. When looking for a new mattress, focus on back and pressure-point support. Memory foam, gel foam, and latex mattresses can all offer the support you need at different levels of firmness and temperature control.
Avoid Stimulating Foods and Beverages
In addition to avoiding stimulating activities, you should also avoid eating certain foods too close to bedtime. The following foods and beverages can disrupt your sleep by keeping your brain and digestive system active long after you’ve gone to bed:
● Caffeinated tea (including green tea)
● Sugar-filled desserts
● Dark chocolate
● Spicy foods
● Fatty fried foods
Instead, reach for bananas, nuts, granola, or herbal tea with honey to help your body produce melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
Create the Perfect Sleep Environment
Most of us use our bedrooms for activities other than sleep, such as work, entertainment, and engaging in stressful conversations with our partner. Change how you think about your bedroom and use it for only two things: sleep and romance. Remove all distractions from your bedroom. This means getting rid of the TV, work desk, and treadmill. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible during the night because any amount of artificial light can obstruct a restful sleep. Distracting sounds from outside can be managed using white noise machines. Finally, keep your room cool, between 60 and 67 degrees, since your body temperature needs to drop to prepare for sleep. You may even consider investing in a smart thermostat to make temperature optimization that much easier.
Enhance Your Sleep with Collagen
Improving your sleep habits can result in a boost to your physical and mental health. But did you know that getting good sleep can also slow the aging process? One study indicates that sleeping for four hours for just one night can cause older adults' cells to age rapidly, increasing the risk of developing diseases such as cancer or dementia. This is another reason why getting a good night's sleep regularly is so important. If you want to see an improvement in your skin, hair, and nails faster, though, you may consider taking collagen. In one study, some individuals saw results after just one week, while others didn't see significant results until week 12. The time frame is different for everyone, so be patient, try not to skip a day of taking collagen, and of course, get a good night's rest regularly.
Caring for your health means making yourself a priority. Stop putting things like work and social engagements ahead of your sleep. You’ll be able to work more productively and enjoy your waking hours more fully when you get the restorative sleep you need.
Mindful Way Coaching offers meditation and mindfulness sessions to help you transform your life and improve your well-being. Check out our new membership for a free 21-day trial.