Improving Mental Health: How To Fix Your Sleep ScheduleNovember 25, 2020
Chances are you know the feeling of the 3 pm slump. You find yourself reaching for a coffee or something sweet, looking for a boost of energy. While it is natural for our energy to ebb and flow throughout the day, if you notice that your feeling exhausted more days than not or that your mental health is suffering, it may be time to re-evaluate your sleep schedule.
The Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health
Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Unhealthy sleep patterns can affect your psychological state and mental health and sleep problems are common in people who struggle with anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Poor sleep can also affect stress hormones and cause impaired thinking and emotional regulation.
An article in Psychology Today states: “During sleep, the body and brain repair themselves, strengthening the immune system—which has close ties to mental health—bolstering the stress response, and recharging the systems that help regulate emotions, consolidate memories and thoughts, focus, and connect to others.”
Tips for Improving Your Sleep Schedule
So knowing that better sleep can improve your mental health, how can you create a better sleep schedule for yourself?
Create a Ritual: If turning your brain off at the end of the day is challenging, create a getting ready for sleep ritual for yourself. It can be something as simple as pulling the curtains and reading a book to unwind or taking a relaxing bath. When you establish a routine for yourself, your body and mind will begin to learn that these rituals means that you’re preparing for sleep.
Turn Off Screens: This can be a challenging one for people as many of us are used to scrolling through our phones as we lie in bed. Harvard Health tells us that the blue light given off by electronic devices can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Ideally, turn off electronics at least two hours before bedtime. If that’s not possible, try blue-blocking glasses.
Work Backwards: If you’re wondering how to set a time to go to bed, work backward. Think about what time you need to get up the next morning. If you are aiming for eight hours of sleep and you know that you need to wake up by 7 am to be to work on time, that means you should be asleep by 11 pm. This can also help you know when to start your bedtime rituals. If your routine takes 30 minutes, then starting at 10:30 pm puts you in bed and ready for sleep in time.
Track Yourself: If you’re having a difficult time sticking to a sleep schedule, try keeping track of your sleep habits. Notice how your sleep is on days when you’re dragging or struggling with your mental health. Chances are, those are days that you have also struggled with your sleep. Seeing this connection between your sleep and your wellbeing can be motivational towards keeping with your schedule.
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