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Top Tips for Improved Sleep Hygiene So You Can Be Your Best

An article by Kimberly Hayes gives us some ideas on how to improve our sleeping patterns and shows us that we must do so for both our physical and mental wellbeing:

Sometimes, it can seem like a good night’s sleep is more of a luxury than a necessity. After all, many of us run on caffeine from morning until night, day after day. However, sleep hygiene is closely linked with mental wellness. Here is how to improve the quality of your slumber so you can be your best.

How much is enough? You might be thinking you’re just fine with running on fumes, but the truth is if you’re relying on caffeine or sugar to feel alert, or if you frequently feel tired during the day, those are indicators you need more sleep or better quality sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, our need for sleep does ebb a bit as we grow older. Average adults between the ages of 18 and 65 require between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and after we turn 65, we need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night on average. If you aren’t rested, it’s vital to take steps to improve your slumber.

Mattress upgrade. One of the most common reasons for poor sleep is an uncomfortable mattress. If you awaken with stiffness, back pain, or achy joints, your mattress could be the root cause. In fact, poor-quality mattresses are linked with a number of health issues, such as allergies and a weakened immune system. A poorly-chosen or worn-out mattress also appears to contribute to increased stress levels, raising your cortisol and making you feel irritable. If any of that hits home, it may be time to invest in a new mattress. Do your research and read reviews of the mattress options available, and match your choice with your sleep type (if you have back pain, tend to sleep on your stomach or side, are a hot sleeper, etc.).

Improved environment. What does your bedroom look like? Is it a home gym with a bed in the corner, or does your nightstand look like a home office? Even worse, do you lounge in bed watching TV? Changing the environment can be a key to improved slumber. Electronic gadgets can be particularly disruptive, since the blue light they emit can make you feel more awake. Think in terms of creating a sleep sanctuary. Remove the entertainment devices, treadmill and office equipment, and make it a clean, relaxing space. Make sure it’s sufficiently dark at night, and let in a little morning light to help your body synchronize with natural daylight patterns. Also, keep temperatures on the cooler side at night so you sleep more comfortably.

Unhappy consequences. Sleeping helps your mind and body recover from the events of the day. When you don’t get sufficient sleep, it’s harder to focus, problem solve, and think clearly. In fact, some studies indicate you are more inclined to suffer with depression or anxiety, and it may leave you more susceptible to other forms of mental health concerns. People with existing mental health issues can experience increased symptoms when they don’t get enough sleep, or if they experience poor-quality sleep. Being sleep deprived can even make your ability to drive decline to the point you are as much of a road hazard as a drunk driver.

So, how do you improve your habits so you can be happier and healthier? Here are some suggestions from HowSleepWorks:
– Go to sleep and arise at the same time every day so your body can get into a rhythm.
– Avoid exercise, heavy meals, and caffeine close to bedtime.
– Engage in a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as listening to music or meditating in dim lighting.
– Spend time in sunlight daily to help your body synchronize with natural cycles.

Alcohol can also be a contributing factor of poor sleep and decreased mental health. If you’re experiencing alcohol addiction and are struggling to recover, the Sinclair Method can be useful in curbing the addiction. It is a form of treatment that uses medication to break the connection between alcohol and the pleasure response you get from drinking it. With successful treatment, you’ll gradually feel less compelled to drink, and ultimately, the lack of alcohol consumption can give you a more restful night’s sleep.

Better sleep for a better you. Sleep hygiene can be a key to better well-being. Invest in a new mattress, create a sleep sanctuary, and improve your habits. With better sleep, you can be happier and healthier.

Article by Kimberly Hayes

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