World Sleep Day is celebrated on 18th March to help us advocate and raise awareness for sleep health. Sleep is closely connected to mental and emotional health and has been proven to have links to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions.
Sleep is an essential part of our life – it is important to our bodies as eating, drinking, and breathing, and is vital for maintaining good mental and physical health. Following the mindset ‘happy body, happy mind’ we need to take care of our body to be able to manage our mental health.
Sleep plays a main role in this process – it is the body’s restorative cycle and if you don’t get enough of it, you throw your whole body out of balance. The same goes for your mind – poor sleep can affect your mental health and living with mental health problem can have a negative impact on how well you sleep.
Don’t let yourself get caught in the vicious circle of over-committing and under-sleeping because it’s only going to decrease your efficiency. Look at what can you do to improve your sleep quality and have enough energy for your daily tasks.
5 steps to sleep better:
1. Be consistent
Go to bed at the same time to create your bedtime routine, and don’t forget to include weekends. Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Studies have shown that irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and affect levels of melatonin – sleep hormone.
Get some exercise! Physical activity during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. It’s important to keep your body active but make sure you don’t exercise before bed. Due to the stimulatory effect of exercise that increase hormones like adrenaline, exercising right before bed might bring you a completely opposite effect and disrupt your sleep or don’t let you fall asleep at all.
3. Limit daytime naps
Short power naps may be beneficial – the research noted that 30 minutes or shorter naps can enhance daytime brain function, but longer or irregular napping during the day can harm health and sleep quality.
4. Reduce screen time
Exposure to blue light during night-time not only tricks your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime but also blocks the production of sleep hormone – melatonin. Research has shown that, as little as 2 hours of exposure to blue light at night slowed or stopped release of melatonin. Power down your digital devices at least 3 hours before bedtime to help restore the healthy hormone production.
5. Relax and clear your mind
Create a pre-sleep routine that will help you relax. You can try taking a hot bath, meditation, deep breathing, or calm music to put your body in a relaxed state. Research has proven that taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed improved sleep quality and helped people get deeper sleep.