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  • Sleep and mental health go hand in hand. Just like the body needs rejuvenation after a long day, so does the mind. Getting plenty of rest can be hard for many, as the day’s stressors like work, school, or even the future can keep people up at night. Keep reading to learn how to get restful sleep and how people can improve their rest to wake up refreshed and ready for a new day.

    Why Is Sleep Important?

    Sleep is a fundamental pillar necessary for vitality and well-being. As the body’s main restorative process, sleep is intricately linked to human health, from physical to mental. Sleep deprivation can cause several ailments in the body and make an individual feel groggy, irritated, and chronically tired.

    Chemical compounds like melatonin and adenosine are the body’s sleep inducers. Both help regulate the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and promote feelings of drowsiness and relaxation, facilitating the onset of sleep.

    Sleep and Mental Health

    Adequate sleep is crucial to ensure that emotions and brain functioning are at top performance. While someone sleeps, their brain is getting ready for the next day by forming new essential pathways for learning and memory. Getting plenty of rest helps with emotional regulation, cognitive processes, and overall psychological functioning. Here are some benefits of sleeping efficiently:

    • Better concentration
    • Memory retention
    • Emotional well-being
    • Better problem-solving abilities

    Lack of sleep can be detrimental to mental well-being in several ways, including increased stress levels, depression, anxiety, and mood swings. When an individual experiences disturbances in their sleep patterns, whether it be sleeping too much, not being able to sleep, or fragmented sleep, it often mirrors underlying mental distress. That said, prioritizing proper sleep and wellness habits can help ensure rest is a recharging experience.

    How Much Sleep Is Enough?

    Getting the right amount of sleep can be challenging, especially with the many responsibilities most have throughout the day. The amount of sleep a person needs can be subjective. However, experts recommend seven to nine hours of quality sleep for adults. This gives the brain adequate time to cycle through two phases of sleep: The first, nonrapid eye movement (NREM), is further divided into three stages—light sleep, light but slightly deeper sleep, and deep sleep. The second stage is known as your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During the REM phase, some people experience vivid dreaming. With each phase, the brain moves through its nightly restoration process.

    Tips for Better Sleep

    Sleeping the right amount of hours every night is only one facet of proper rest. It’s also critical that rest is high-quality and rejuvenates the brain and the body. A poor night’s sleep filled with tossing and turning or disturbances can be almost as harmful as not sleeping enough. Follow these tips and tricks to get the best sleep and wake up feeling prepared for a new day.

    Establish a Nightly Routine and Bedtime

    Having a nightly routine and set sleep schedule can train the brain to understand when sleep is appropriate. Nighttime routines can be as simple as taking a shower and getting in bed. Or they can be ritualistic, like lighting a candle, playing soothing music, or reading a book. The purpose of a nighttime routine is to signal to the brain that it’s time to sleep soon.

    Going to bed at the same time every night will further ensure getting plenty of rest. Exact sleeping times will vary by the person, but experts recommend sleeping between ten and eleven. Getting to bed too early or late can disrupt the internal body clock, which controls its innate sense of time and circadian rhythm. Synchronized circadian rhythms improve mental well-being.

    Create an Ideal Sleep Environment

    Sleep environment can mean the difference between waking up refreshed and pressing the snooze button multiple times. Creating a comfortable space that encourages sleep is the perfect solution. Many factors can influence the urge or disinterest in sleeping. All of the body’s senses play a part in welcoming better sleep. A bedroom should have an inviting feel that encourages relaxation and winding down. Here are some tips for creating the best sleep environment:

    • Have a cozy bed and sheets
    • Ensure the room temperature is ideal
    • Try sleep-inducing essential oils or candles, like lavender, chamomile or bergamot
    • Shut the lights and TV off
    • Create a silent environment or play soft soothing music

    Practice Relaxation Techniques

    Feeling relaxed before bed can ease the body into a restful state and make falling and staying asleep easier. Reading a book for a short period before bed is one way to work the brain without physical activity. Reading is a more complex task for the mind and strengthens the brain’s connections, potentially preventing age-related cognitive decline. As reading becomes a nightly routine, the brain receives a signal that it’s time to sleep.

    Taking a warm bath or shower an hour or two before bed can also promote a restful night’s sleep. A bath or shower lowers the body’s core temperature, which, in turn, signals sleep.

    Practicing mindfulness exercises like meditation, deep breathing, and journaling can increase relaxation. Since meditation and deep breathing combine mental and physical activities, they can target anxious thoughts and physical stressors at the same time. In return, meditating before sleeping encourages overall relaxation and prepares the body for sleep.

    Journaling is another tactic to clear the mind of any stressors and anxiety from the day. Writing down worries and negative thoughts can declutter the mind and alleviate cognitive arousal, reducing stress and anxiety levels.

    Remove Distractions

    Distractions can easily make it into the bedroom, prolonging wakefulness or disrupting sleep. Phones and TV are typically the biggest sleep distractions. When someone scrolls on their phone or watches TV before bed, their brains become overstimulated instead of preparing for rest. Blue light from phones and TVs also fool the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Just minutes of screen time can delay melatonin release and desynchronize the body clock. Here are some simple tips to eliminate these distractions:

    • Set a technology curfew at least an hour before bed
    • Put phone notifications on do not disturb
    • Turn the phone facedown at night
    • Schedule a specific time to check messages after waking

    Limit Caffeine and Stimulants

    Caffeine and other stimulants keep people awake during the day. But according to experts, having caffeine even eight hours before bedtime can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Caffeine and stimulants block the release of melatonin and adenosine. This makes for tossing and turning, early waking, and trouble falling asleep.

    Sleep-promoting herbal teas, like chamomile, valerian, and lavender, are a great solution for people who love a hot beverage before bed. Not only will these teas satisfy the urge for something hot, but they’ll also relax the mind and help prepare it for getting plenty of rest.

    Avoid Large Meals and Alcohol Before Bedtime

    When someone eats before bed, it negatively affects digestion and sleep quality. Eating before bed also comes with many disadvantages, like acid reflux, heartburn, and weight gain. Experts recommend eating up to two hours before bedtime to avoid negative effects. Still, having a light snack an hour before bed can help some fall asleep faster.

    Alcohol is another huge sleep disrupter. Drinking alcohol can cause insomnia. Someone might fall asleep easier after drinking, but they may wake up a few hours later and not be able to fall back asleep. Alcohol also affects REM sleep, which is the deepest sleep where people have the most vivid dreams. To ensure getting plenty of rest, try to prioritize proper sleep over indulging as much as possible.

    Exercise Regularly

    Exercise has countless benefits for the mind and body. Incorporating at least thirty minutes of daily exercise can promote a deeper, more restful sleep at night. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety while helping people unwind. Still, avoid exercising before bed, as it can stimulate the body and create a burst of energy.

    Manage Stress

    For many, reducing stress is easier said than done. A less stressful life can greatly enhance a peaceful night’s rest. Of course, some stressful events are hard to avoid. Work, family, and money can be huge stressors that keep a person up at night pondering their next move. How someone manages stress can determine how it affects their sleep and mental health. Stress relief activities can differ from person to person. Here are some activities to consider:

    • Exercise
    • Meditation
    • Nature-walks
    • Journaling
    • Yoga
    • Massage
    • Laughter
    • Music
    • Stretching
    • Healthy eating
    • Dancing
    • Gardening
    • Knitting

    When someone spends time venturing into different hobbies, their stresses can seem not as daunting. This, in turn, can help them get to bed without clutter on their mind and get plenty of rest.

    How to Get Restful Sleep: Consistency Is Key

    Following these tips and tricks may seem challenging, but they can slowly be incorporated to improve rest. It can be helpful to try a few habits at a time to get acquainted until forming a nightly routine that works best.


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