By Lucy Reed
Everyone has found themselves in this situation at some point: lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, longing for sleep. For those with mental health issues, this may be an every night occurrence. Sleep problems are both a symptom and a cause of many mental illnesses. By focusing on a good night’s rest and these tips from Head2Toe Magazine, you can battle many forms of anxiety and depression and keep your body healthy as well.
What Does Sleep Do For You?
Sleep is an important part of keeping our bodies and minds running at their best. A solid night’s rest allows our bodies to heal and recharge and keeps our immune system in good shape. Each sleep cycle has its own impact on your body’s overall function, which is why it’s important to stay asleep once you’ve fallen asleep. It’s also why conditions like sleep apnea, which may interrupt your sleep without waking you entirely, can cause such serious damage to your health.
How Does It Affect Mental Health?
Poor sleep can make mental health issues much worse, and can, unfortunately, create feedback loops that are hard to get out of. For example, if you haven’t slept well, you’re more likely to experience anxious thoughts throughout the day. Those thoughts follow you to bed, and instead of your brain shutting down and getting the rest it needs, it cycles through those stressors. This leads to a cycle of poor sleep and high anxiety that can leave you feeling trapped. If anxiety is keeping you up at night, you may need the support of a mental health professional. Check your insurance to see if this service is covered. If you’re a senior, mental health services should be covered by Medicare Part B.
Common Sleep Disruptors
Since so many people have trouble sleeping, it stands to reason that there must be plenty of things that make good sleep difficult. For example, the technology boom has been linked to sleep issues on several fronts.
First of all, computers, phones and TVs all emit a blue light that inhibits the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. This means that staying up to watch late-night talk shows or scrolling through funny articles on your phone in bed keep your brain active for longer. There’s also the content itself – social media, for example, has been linked to decreased happiness and increased anxiety, both of which make it harder to sleep at night.
Your furry friends might be keeping you awake at night as well. Though your dog’s presence might be a comfort, having them there can do more harm than good. Consider getting a crate set up in your room so your best friend can still be with you, but in their own sleep space.
A disorganized and cluttered home can exacerbate anxiety issues and negative thoughts. Clean and declutter your home and bedroom and let in natural light to create a more peaceful and positive space at home.
What You Can Do
If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, there are several things you can do to get yourself to fall and stay asleep. For example, you can use a white noise machine to soothe yourself to sleep or use mindfulness meditation before bed to quiet your anxious mind and lower stress.
If you haven’t upgraded your mattress in the last 10 years, that may be keeping you up as well. When looking for a new one, be sure to take your body type and sleep style into account – some mattresses, such as spring varieties, only suit certain people. Others, such as memory foam, suit most body types and sleep styles. These come in a variety of forms including soft, firm, foam, hybrid, and even flippable. Do the research to find what’s right for you.
If your mattress is still relatively new, consider getting it cleaned to remove dust and improve air quality. Boosting your home’s air quality can improve your sleep if you’ve been waking up coughing or have issues breathing. Visit Angi to find highly rated furniture cleaners in your area to clean your mattress. Always insist on referrals and read customer testimonials before choosing a contractor.
Any reduction in sleep disruptors will help as well. If you have a lot of outdoor lighting around your home, invest in blackout blinds or curtains. Stop using any backlit screens an hour before bedtime, and switch to sleep-encouraging bedtime routines, such as reading a book, practicing a sleep-inducing meditation, or taking a relaxing bath.
Whatever you do, make it a habit. By creating a regular sleep routine, you’ll train your brain to know those things mean it’s time to rest. This will make falling asleep easier, improving all aspects of your health.
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