This week’s guest writer and creator of selfcaring.info, Brad Krause, gives easy to follow recommendations for how to improve sleep quality, reminding us about the restoration, nourishment, and healing that sleep provides, making it an essential aspect of good mental health and wellbeing.
As the year is winding down quickly, and you are likely to have been swept up in chaos and a busy schedule, consider implementing some of these tips into your life and how you might prioritize good sleep in the New Year.
A good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you do for your mental health. When you sleep, your brain goes through several essential processes that enable it to perform at its optimal level. Sleep deprivation can lead to symptoms such as memory loss, irritability, and feelings of depression. Sustained over time, a lack of quality sleep increases the risk of disease and can even lead to drowsy driving fatalities.
Your home environment can have a huge impact on your sleep. The body runs on circadian rhythms that can easily be disrupted by external stimuli in the home. Reducing potentially disruptive elements from the home better enables the body to adjust to its sleep mode at night.
A great place to start is with your home’s stress levels. Making your home a reduced stress environment is simple. First of all, a clean and decluttered home is less likely to instigate feelings of anxiety. You’re not overwhelmed by a bunch of visual noise and anything that you need is easier to find on hand.
Once you’re done with work for the day, commit to truly being done. Don’t check your e-mail or look at stats online — rather, make the last hours of your active day about spending time with your loved ones or enjoying a relaxing hobby.
When you start getting ready for bed, turn off electronics and dim the household fixtures if you can. Artificial light is proven to slow down the body’s production of melatonin, which, in turn, makes it more difficult to fall asleep. If you live in an urban area with plenty of light pollution, it can help to hang blackout curtains in your bedroom that block it out. Furthermore, you can make your bedroom a comforting and welcoming environment for sleep by adding touches such as a white noise machine, essential oils diffuser, or bedside fan. A cool sleep environment is crucial — your ideal bedroom temperature should be below 68 degrees F at night.
Meditation is a great tool for improving sleep. A regular mindfulness meditation practice helps train the mind to stay in the moment and not be distracted by unproductive ideas. If you’re the type of person who finds themselves unable to fall asleep because of racing thoughts, try meditating for 10 to 20 minutes before bed to help quiet your mind. Create up a meditation space where you can practice in peace. You can outfit your space with a totem or decoration you can focus on while you meditate. Set a timer for the amount of time you wish to meditate, and if you find your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your breath. You can also try playing guided meditations when you lay down as a way to drift off to dreamland.
If your body and mind simply feel restless at the end of the day, there are some easy ways to overcome these feelings. A hot shower or bath manipulates your body temperature and helps you feel drowsy before bed. The heat from the water directly raises that of the body and when you step out, the swift drop in temperature creates that oh-so-coveted sleepy feeling. You can also try to recreate this effect with a hot cup of herbal tea before bed.
Sleep is the essential part of your routine where your brain is able to renew itself so it can perform at its best the next day. Without enough sleep, your mental health can suffer debilitating side effects. A key to great sleep is a healthy home environment where stress and anxiety can’t disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm. To reduce stress at home, make sure the house is clean and organized. Before bed, shut down electronics and turn off non-essential lights that would otherwise disrupt natural melatonin production. To help you get ready for bed, have a few healthy nighttime activities that promote relaxation. Try meditation, taking a warm bath, or sipping a hot cup of tea to quiet the body and mind for bed.
Thank you, Brad, for sharing your knowledge and helpful tips with us today. In our busy day-to-day, it can be so easy to let sleep slide down the list of priorities. This piece has been a great reminder of why this habit is one worth reworking.
Questions, thoughts, or feedback? Reach our team any time at [email protected] or follow us on social @findmywellbeing. We look forward to talking more soon.
After college, Brad Krause jumped straight into the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. What started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling: helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created selfcaring.info to share his perspective and the resources he’s accumulated with others.