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Self-Care: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Beth Hess - Thursday, September 14, 2017
We know that sleep has a profound impact on our health, including mental health. In addition to helping us tackle a day’s challenges, getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night can help maintain brain health, both cognitive functioning and memory. Lack of adequate sleep can contribute to a number of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, many of us do not get a proper night’s sleep. Busy schedules are a common reason, but some people suffer from insomnia; they have great difficulty falling asleep at night and/or wake during the night and have trouble going back to sleep.

There are many tips for promoting good sleep—several are included below. You may find some difficult to implement, but there are a few that can be easily adopted:

  
  • First you must make your sleep a priority; schedule seven to nine hours of sleep into your day.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
  • Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night - read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Try not to watch television or use your computer, cell phone or tablet in the bedroom. The light from these devices may make it difficult for you to fall asleep
  • Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime - they can keep you awake.
  • Stay away from caffeine late in the day.  Caffeine can be hidden in many products, such as decaf coffee, sodas (other than colas), chocolate, pain relievers, energy water and protein bars.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
  • Establish an optimal sleep environment. Your bedroom should be kept at a cool temperature and be free from any noise that could disturb your sleep (including your bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring). Consider using ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers or fans.  Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. You may want to purchase blackout curtains or eye shades.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress. The mattress you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy (about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses).
If after establishing good sleep habits you still find yourself consistently struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, there may be another cause. You may have a sleep disorder that requires treatment. Consult with your physician.

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