Finding Your Sleep Groove: The Link Between Sleep and Mental Health | Guest Post by Kimberly Hayes
It’s hard to believe that people spend one-third of their lives sleeping. It’s even harder to believe that many people don’t make the connection between sound, restful sleep and mental health, but the fact is that failing to get the sleep you need can have a serious effect on your mental well-being. The obvious effects include grogginess, excessive yawning, and heavy eyelids during the day. Less evident but more serious symptoms include memory loss, an inability to concentrate, mood swings, and irritability. These may indicate that something serious is going on and that sleep deprivation is the cause. If getting to sleep is a problem for you, the following sleep strategies may be just what you need.
Some people are especially sensitive to noise when trying to sleep. Simple bumps and creaks in the night may be enough to pull them out of a restful sleep. For others, a nearby stereo or a car engine makes it nearly impossible for them to get to sleep. If noise is keeping you from getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night, consider using noise-inhibiting ear plugs or headphones. Sometimes, a fan turned on high or a white noise phone app can be helpful.
The Right Mattress
It can be easy to overlook your mattress as a potential sleep problem unless lumps and springs are sticking in your back. Even subtle problems with a mattress can make it hard to achieve restful, restorative sleep. Plus, if your mattress is past its prime, it’s time to shop around for a new one; just be sure to find a mattress that suits your sleep style. For example, if you’re a side sleeper, your ideal mattress is one that offers pressure relief for your shoulders and hips and that ensures your whole body is fully supported when you sleep. Plenty of mattresses are built with sleep styles in mind, so be sure to make that a criteria in your search.
Your sleep environment should be as dark as possible. The presence of light, even a very small amount, can be enough to make the brain think it’s time to be up and about. Make sure that all lights have been turned off and that all screens (TV, computer, smartphone, etc.) are completely off. If external light from car headlights or streetlights is a problem, consider using blackout shades or start using a sleep mask to help you relax.
The temperature in your sleep space is one of the most important factors in your ability to sleep soundly. Your body temperature is reduced in a sleep state; if the room is too warm, your body will react in the other direction. If it’s difficult to keep the temperature regulated, consider keeping a fan on through the night to help lower your body temperature.
You’ve probably heard at some point in your life that taking a hot bath before bedtime can help you get to sleep because it’s relaxing. Actually, there’s more going on than just relaxation. Taking a hot bath (or shower) uses your body’s metabolism to help you feel sleepy because your body temperature goes down when you get out of the tub, which induces sleepiness.
Maintain a Sleep Routine
When it comes to sleeping, establishing a consistent bedtime routine can make a world of difference. Determine a regular bedtime, and begin preparing for sleep a half hour or so before you hit the sack. One nighttime task you should add to your agenda: use a sleep-inducing essential oil to help you drift off to dreamland. Barefut’s Sleep Eternity Blend will help lull you into relaxation with its calming blend of lavender, valerian, and vetiver, ingredients which have been touted for their abilities to aid in restful sleep and promoting a sense of calm. Also remember that it’s important to get up at the same time each morning, both on the weekend and during the week, so your body is able to maintain a sleep rhythm.
Sometimes, the causes of poor sleep health are obvious, like downing a cup of black coffee or two before bedtime. Other times, it’s something you wouldn’t expect, such as a mattress that’s outlived its usefulness. Whatever the reason you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, it’s essential to find your sleep groove. Your mental health and physical well-being are at stake.