Special to Palmetto Counseling’s Blog | May 31st, 2018 5:55 PM EDT
This issue features an article by Amanda Turner.
Getting a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis can do wonders for both your physical and mental health. When you fall short, however, the deficit takes a serious toll on your energy level, emotions, and productivity. Furthermore, when mental health issues and sleep deprivation are combined, they create a flurry of overlapping symptoms that are frustrating, scary, and lonely. If left unchecked, these symptoms can ultimately result in relationship problems, worsened mental health symptoms, and self-destructive behavior. Luckily, there are solutions to improve the quality and duration of your rest. It just takes some diligence and commitment to several practices that work together for a tried-and-true sleep panacea that can train your body to wind down at night and promote the best sleep possible.
1. Nurture a Consistent Sleep/Wake Cycle
The first big step toward getting quality sleep regularly is to apply consistency to your sleep and wake times. Make sure that you hit the hay at the same time every night and set your alarm for the same time every morning. This includes over the weekends and on days off. It might be tempting to sleep in but doing so can throw off your natural sleep and wake schedule.
2. Nap Wisely
A short afternoon nap can sometimes restore your energy for the rest of your day, however, napping also often leave you tossing and turning at night. If you’re getting enough sleep, you shouldn’t need to nap during the day. Feeling the need to nap may be a sign that you need to nurture your mental health in other ways in conjunction with your sleep practices. If you do take a nap, keep it as short as possible to throw off your energy levels as little as possible.
3. Start With a Good Breakfast
You don’t have to give up your morning coffee, but don’t depend on it alone to fuel you until lunch. You’ll end up crashing mid-morning, feeling irritable and craving unhealthy foods for lunch. Getting in a nutritious breakfast kick-starts you for making other healthy choices throughout the day. Look for food high in protein like eggs or nuts.
4. Soak in the Sun
Is it a beautiful day outside? If so, consider heading outside to enjoy your coffee on the deck and soak up some sun. Even sitting by a sunny window for a while can help you to wake up and give you a healthy dose of vitamin D. The sun also helps suppress melatonin, something that our body uses to promote sleep.
5. Do a Sound Check
Is your home noisy at night? If so, you might be having trouble getting quality rest because the sound is keeping you up. There may even be noises around your home that you don’t notice because they blend into the background during the day. When you’re winding down at night, pay close attention to any distracting noises such as a loud HVAC system or noisy appliances and take care of any home repairs.
6. Beware the Blue Light
Avoid spending too much time around blue light at night. We were meant to spend evenings in darkness, and TV and cell phone screens emit blue light. Much like sunlight, blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, but on a more powerful level. Turn off the screens two hours before bed and turn other lights down low.
7. Take a Hike
A brisk 30-minute walk every day can help prime your body for sleep. Don’t plan your exercise within two hours of bedtime, however, so that there’s time for your body temperature to drop and your heart rate to slow down before it’s time to try and sleep. Planning your hike to take place during the day so you can enjoy the sunlight can also do wonders for your mood.
8. Wind Things Down
Give yourself 30 minutes before bed to dim the lights, turn on an essential oil diffuser or candles that help you sleep, and engage in a relaxing activity like meditation, taking a warm bath, or deep breathing exercises. This lets your body and mind truly come down from the day and promotes healthy sleep.
Quality rest doesn’t have to be elusive. Keep our tips in mind and see which ones work to help increase your sleep this month.
About the author
Amanda Turner is a freelance writer and recent graduate who is exploring her passions through writing.