Sleep hygiene refers to the practices and tips you do before going to bed to get a good night’s sleep. Not only do these habits help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper, but they can also help those with mental health conditions get a better night’s sleep, as well.
Those with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, may have a harder time sleeping due to the condition itself or the medications that are often prescribed to treat these conditions. Psychiatric medications are known to disrupt your natural sleep cycle, make it harder to fall asleep, and make you have a more restless night’s sleep.
If you are suffering from a mental health condition and can’t seem to get some good shut-eye, it may be time for a sleep hygiene revamp. Healthy sleep hygiene habits can help you get a better night’s sleep, which will make you feel better during the day. Here are a few of our favorite sleep hygiene tips.
Practice a Nightly Meditation
One of the best things that people with anxiety can do is practice meditation and mindfulness. This centering practice helps slow down your racing mind, will help you focus on sleep, and slows down your heart rate. This is true for all times of the day, but especially before bed. When people think of meditation, they think of elaborate setups with incense, candles, and drums.
But in reality, meditation is as simple as sitting back, closing your eyes, and taking deep breaths. Feel how your breath affects every part of your body and be conscious of your body’s feelings and sensations. Being in the moment and clearing your mind will help reduce your stress and anxiety and help you sleep better.
Don’t Consume Caffeine, Drugs, or Alcohol Before Bed
Another good sleep hygiene tip, especially for those with mental health issues, is to avoid any caffeine, alcohol, or drugs 6-8 hours before bed. There is a strong connection between mental health and substance abuse, so it might be helpful to avoid these substances altogether, but you should especially cut them out of your routine in the afternoon before going to sleep. Even though it seems like a long time, your body takes hours to process these mind-altering substances and they will impact your sleep cycle.
Create a Sleep Sanctuary
Another healthy sleep hygiene tip is to make your bedroom a “sleep sanctuary,” or a place totally focused on sleep. Some tips on how to make your bedroom as comfortable as possible include:
- Blocking out all light with blackout curtains
- Removing any screens, including TVs, tablets, and phones, from the bedroom
- Making sure your room is quiet and using a white noise generator to drown out any distracting sounds
- Making sure that your bed is only used for sleeping and not eating, hanging out, or socializing. Even if you live in a small apartment, you should still designate a special space for sleep and sleep only.
Creating a safe space is key to combating mental health concerns and getting a good night’s sleep, so this sleep hygiene tip works for both day and night.
Turn the Screens Off
As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t have any screens in your bedroom, but you really shouldn’t use technology before bed. Phones, TVs, and computers emit blue light, which disrupts the signals in your brain that make you sleepy. Cut out screen usage an hour before bed and read, knit, color, or listen to music instead. In addition, if you have your phone within reach, you might delay your sleep because you get sucked into the never-ending rabbit hole of social media and Internet browsing.
Make Time for Sleep
Lastly, to get a good night’s sleep, you should prioritize sleep and make yourself a schedule. We often find ourselves getting distracted and then the time quickly flies by and we’re late to bed. Experts recommend starting your sleep schedule and hygiene habits 2 hours before you actually want to be sleeping.
For example, if you need to wake up at 7 am, you should go to bed at 11 pm at the latest to get a full 8 hours of sleep. That means getting ready for bed at 9 pm to start winding your body down. If you can’t seem to remember to get ready for bed before it gets too late, set a reminder on your phone to help you start to settle down.
Sleep and mental health have a very close connection. If you struggle with mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety, it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep. But getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for your brain and body to function at its peak. This constant cycle can be stopped by adopting these sleep hygiene tips. They can help you put the priority on some shut-eye and feel better day in and day out.