Sleep is a major factor that impacts our mental health. This may not be so easy to see if your someone that always gets that gold standard 7-9 hours, but if you’re like me and your sleep patterns fluctuate between good and poor, you’ll know how crucial a good nights sleep is to your functioning the next day, and maybe even throughout that week.
Research suggests that when we get stressed, sleep is the first thing that is sacrificed, and I am definitely a culprit of this. When I was studying for my masters I was also working and volunteering and spent most of my days walking around in a sleep deprivation induced fog. However, a few months in I realised that this was impacting my mental health. I am not alone in this, as research has suggested that poor sleep can negatively impact our physical and mental health. So I began to focus more on ensuring I get a good nights sleep! Here are a few things I tried that have helped me improve my sleep quality:
- I began getting into bed around an hour and a half before I intend to go to sleep
- I spend the first 30 minutes catching up on my social media before putting my phone on air plane mode so I don’t receive notifications and check my phone in the night
- I make sure I then spend the next hour or so reading – this helps me take my mind off of anything that has happened during the day that would otherwise keep me awake at night stressing, and also keeps me away from my phone screen.
- I also think it’s important to keep some form of routine with your sleep; the time I used to go to sleep and wake up often changed from day to day depending on whether I was studying, working or volunteering. However, I now work full-time, and so go to bed and wake-up at the same time everyday (apart from the weekends when I have little lie ins) and this has helped my sleep millions.
- Making sure I remain active during the day has also helped, as it means that when I do go to bed I am actually tired. I exercise most days, either in the form of HIIT, yoga or just a walk, and this has definitely improved my sleep.
Here are some other things you can try:
- Avoid napping (this is something I have always struggled with)
- Avoid caffeine
- Limit your bedroom to sleep only – leave computers etc. at the door and do your work in another room of the house
- Avoid eating a late dinner
What do you do to improve your sleep? Share your suggestions below in the comments!