Are you getting enough sleep? One in three American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Too little sleep or poor quality sleep can make it difficult to function during the day. Lack of sleep has also been shown to significantly worsen the symptoms of many mental health conditions. If you are living with a mental health diagnosis getting proper sleep should be a priority. Signs of poor sleep quality include: feeling sleepy or tired even after regularly getting seven hours of sleep a night; repeatedly waking up during the night; having symptoms of sleep disorders (such as snoring or gasping for air).
Five tips for better sleep
- Establish a Regular Bedtime
Keeping a consistent bedtime is as important as length of time a person sleeps. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read a book or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed.
- Turn Off the Screens Avoid devices with screens at bedtime. The blue light from screens can over stimulate the mind. Try reading a book instead.
- Create a Good Sleep Environment Your bedroom should be cool between 60 and 67 degrees. It should be free from noise and light. Consider blackout curtains, eye shades, earplugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices to help you sleep.
- Things to Avoid Cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine can disrupt sleep. Eating big or spicy meals can also cause discomfort and make it harder to sleep.
- Manage Worries Try to resolve your worries before bedtime. Jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow. Getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks can also help reduce stress.
Sleep is a key contributor to good mental health, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Getting more sleep is not a substitute for other forms of treatment. If you’re struggling with symptoms of a mental health disorder, talk to a therapist or your family physician.
Sources: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Sleep Medicine