According to the National Institute of Health, more than 100 million American report difficulty falling asleep. As sleep disorders continue to rise, so does its impact on physical and mental health. In response to Sleep Awareness Week, here are five tips for better sleep.
Cultivate a space for sleep
Good design is not just for tech products, it also applies to human environments. Make your bedroom a rest and relaxation sanctuary. Choose quality bedding, pillows, and a mattress that offers support and comfort. Keep it dark, limit noise, and find your ideal room temperature for sleep (somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit). Add lightly-scented, nontoxic calming aromas (i.e. lavender essential oils).
Engage in daytime habits for better sleep
Quality sleep extends beyond the actual hours of rest. Regular exercise and natural sunlight, even if just by window, are essential. Avoid smoke exposure and be mindful of caffeine and alcohol intake, especially closer to bedtime. Limit late, heavy, and/or meals that upset the stomach. Make your bed a place for sleep, relaxation, and intimacy only.
Set a routine schedule
A daily routine yields good slumber. Keep a consistent wake-up, wind-down and target bedtime. Achieve your ideal amount of sleep, it varies from person to person (usually 7 to 9 hours). If you need a nap, aim for mid-day and 20 minutes or less. Got a schedule change? Move into it gradually (i.e. daylight savings time).
Make bedtime a ritual
Humans thrive on rituals. Engage in a 30-minute wind-down prior to sleep. Lower the lights, sounds and room temperature during this time. Shift to a mindset of relaxation with journaling, light reading, meditation yoga, or stretching. Last but not least, turn off electronic devices one hour or more before bed.
Be proactive in your health
Medical conditions, including mental health, may lead to poor sleep and vice versa. Talk to your doctor about any sleep issues and possible associated medical conditions.
There is a two-way relationship between mental health and sleep. Poor sleep increases the risk for mental health condition development, and mental health disorders elevate the risk of sleep disturbances. Seeking early and continuous treatment for both is essential for good health.