An important aspect of maintaining a healthy mental state is maintaining proper sleep hygiene. A lack of sleep, a disrupted sleeping pattern, or a disordered sleep routine can make a huge impact on your overall well-being.
One of the first tasks I assign my clients when they first enter the Enhanced Treatment Program here at BlueSky is to assess their daily sleep routine.
- What time do you normally fall asleep?
- What time do you wake up in the morning?
- How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?
- Are you consuming too much caffeine too late in the day?
- Do you find yourself falling asleep throughout the day?
After clients retrospectively look at their sleeping habits, the work then begins on encouraging them to actively turn off all electronics at a reasonable hour, become more mindful of drinking beverages containing caffeine, and shutting off all stimuli that hinders their ability to fall asleep – and stay asleep – for a beneficial amount of time.
The National Sleep Foundation put together a list of simple ways to improve one’s sleep hygiene, including:
- Avoid certain foods later on in the evening. Foods high in fat content, fried foods, spicy meals, and carbonated beverages can all trigger discomfort and/or painful heartburn for someone trying to fall asleep. Stimulants like caffeine should also be avoided late in the day.
- Limit naps to a half hour each day. Further, trying to nap following a night of restless sleep does not make up for a lack of sleep but a quick nap can help with one’s mood and energy levels.
- Aerobic exercise. A short walk or light cycling for even 10 minutes a day can help improve nighttime sleep. However, intense workouts close to bedtime are not recommended for most individuals as it may negatively impact one’s ability to fall asleep.
- Adequate natural light exposure. This is especially important for those that don’t spend a lot of time outside. Sunlight during the day combined with darkness at night helps maintain a balanced cycle.
- Comfortable sleeping environment. Making sure your mattress, pillows, and climate are comfortable before you try to doze off is essential for optimal sleep. Sound machines, fans, and blackout curtains to remove any unwanted bright lights can be adjusted to ensure the ideal sleeping environment.
Regardless of diagnoses, an improved quality of sleep achieved on a regular basis can have a huge impact on someone’s mental health and their overall quality of life.
For more information on proper sleep hygiene, sleep disorders, and even how to locate a sleep professional, visit The National Sleep Foundation’s homepage for additional resources.